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Maduro and Putin in 2015. Photo: Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

The Trump administration today announced sanctions on Rosneft Trading, a subsidiary of Russian oil giant Rosneft, for helping to keep Venezuela's Maduro regime afloat by facilitating oil exports.

Why it matters: Senior administration officials announcing the sanctions in a call with reporters framed the step as a warning not only to Rosneft but to Russia. They described it as part of a "maximum pressure" campaign that is currently "50-60%" implemented and will continue to ramp up as long as Nicolás Maduro refuses to give up power.

The big picture: It has been 13 months since the U.S. recognized National Assembly President Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's rightful leader and warned that Maduro's days in power were numbered.

  • Venezuela slipped down the administration's priority list following a failed uprising there last April. In Venezuela, hopes have sagged and momentum stalled.
  • But Guaidó continues to have bipartisan support in Washington. He finished a recent international tour with an appearance at the State of the Union.

Details: One administration official described Rosneft Trading as the "gravest violator" of U.S. restrictions on conducting business with the Maduro regime. The firm's chairman, Didier Casimiro, was also sanctioned.

  • Another official described a "growing and increasingly central role of Rosneft in the affairs of Venezuela, particularly in the last year."
  • An estimated 70-80% of Venezuela's oil exports are handled by Russian firms, primarily Rosneft, per the Washington Post.
  • Those revenues help the Maduro regime sustain itself and keep key officials and military officers in the fold.
  • Rosneft stock fell on news of the sanctions.

Asked how additional sanctions would help achieve the end goal of democratic elections in Venezuela, a senior administration official said support from the likes of Rosneft and the Cuban government had given Maduro a "false sense of confidence."

  • Still, the official claimed, there are signs Maduro is considering his options should he have to "exit physically or politically" or make way for a new presidential election.

Flashback: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed following the attempted overthrow of Maduro last April that it was the Russians who convinced Maduro not to flee.

  • An official on the call today accused Russia of complicity with Maduro's abuses and "death squads."

What to watch: There was considerable speculation last year about a possible U.S. or U.S.-backed military intervention to oust Maduro. That has died down, though an administration official reiterated on the call that "all options are on the table."

Go deeper: Maduro survives 2019

Go deeper

10 mins ago - Sports

U.S. gymnast Jade Carey wins Olympic gold in floor exercise final

Jade Carey. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP via Getty Images

American gymnast Jade Carey won Olympic gold in the individual floor exercise final on Monday.

The big picture: Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari won silver and Japan's Mai Murakami and Russian Angelina Melnikova tied for bronze.

Laurel Hubbard becomes first openly trans woman to compete at Olympics

Laurel Hubbard. Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard made history on Monday as the first openly transgender female athlete to compete at the Olympics.

Why it matters: The presence of trans and nonbinary athletes at this year's Games has been celebrated by LGBTQ+ rights advocates, but stirred controversy among critics, who argue trans women have an unfair advantage even after taking hormones to lower their testosterone.

Updated 18 mins ago - Sports

Poland grants humanitarian visa to Belarus sprinter

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya of Belarus in 2019. Photo: Ivan Romano/Getty Images

Poland has granted a humanitarian visa to Belarusian Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who claims she was taken to the Tokyo airport against her will after criticizing Belarusian coaches, Poland's deputy foreign minister confirmed Monday.

The latest: An activist group called the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation told AP that it had bought Tsimanouskaya a ticket to Warsaw for Aug. 4.

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