Recently the Russian Ministry of Finance stated it expects Venezuela to provide payments on time.

Given the U.S. has imposed sanctions against Venezuela, would the economic influence on Venezuela give Russia legitimate reason to include the U.S. or other nations in actions to recover the loan?

To clarify further, I am looking for any existing precedents on international law or Russian history (from the beginning of the Russian Empire, 18th century, roughly when the U.S. started just to pick a date) that would lend credence to Russia legitimately pursuing the U.S. for impairing Venezuela's capacity to repay the loan. Looking for historical evidence or cited context on previous examples that may be relatable to the current situation.

Are there actions Russia can take on Venezuela that the U.S. would be obliged to honor?

A hypothetical example: The US would be forced to pay the loan for Venezuela by breach of a treaty. Or, alternatively, the US would be forced to allow Russia to confiscate Venezuelan assets.

I am seeking potential actions based on evidence. Also, this is not speculating on motives or willingness to comply. Evidence being an treaty, declarations, or action done in a analogous situation.

The heart of what I am seeking is what happens to Venezuela if it doesn't pay Russia what it owes Russia?

Edit: Added some context. This is not seeking speculative or opinionated answers. The primary part of the question is focused on Venezuela. Anything related to the U.S. is ancillary.

  • 1
    I've removed a part of this question which was highly speculative. Please keep in mind that we do not answer questions which ask us to predict the future or ask for internal motivations, because answers can not be confirmed or refuted with information which is already available.
    – Philipp
    Jan 30, 2019 at 9:25
  • @Philipp Thanks for the edit. It isn't meant to be speculative. Really, I have zero knowledge on Russia-Venezuela relations or politics. I am more interested in what, if any, actions are established, understood, or common in a situation of foreign loans.
    – David S
    Jan 30, 2019 at 15:20
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    I don't follow the question at all. The loans from Russia to Venezuela are a bilateral agreement between those two countries. The loan, nor its potential default, creates no obligations on any third party. I don't understand what "this" refers to in the second paragraph. Nor do I understand what you mean "actions... that the US would be obliged to honor" What does it mean "to honor an act"?
    – James K
    Jan 30, 2019 at 21:18
  • @JamesK This loan seems different from my understanding of national debt. This seems to be a direct loan rather than bonds or other forms of capital raising mechanism a nation may use. You would be obliged to honor the bank repossessing your brother's car if he didn't pay his car loan. You can replace "must allow" instead of "obliged to honor" for simplicity, but it skews the meaning I am going for.
    – David S
    Jan 31, 2019 at 16:37
  • I still don't get it. I also don't get the analogy. If my brother's car is repossessed, what does that have to do with me? I don't have to pay my brother's loan, I have no obligation to the bank. And I don't see the relevance to the trilateral relationship between US, Russia and Venzuela. No agreement, treaty or deal or loan (in cash or bond) between two countries can create any kind of obligation on any third country under any circumstance.
    – James K
    Jan 31, 2019 at 22:28

1 Answer 1


CNBC has a nice article on this. It briefly touches on a few hypothetical scenarios. From that article, what applies to your question on Venezuela defaulting on the Russian loan:

Ironically, if Moscow lets Venezuela default on its debts, then Russia would actually be able to exercise its lien on Venezuela’s most valuable asset: U.S.-based oil giant Citgo. In 2016, Maduro secured a fresh loan by giving Rosneft a 49.9 percent stake in Citgo as collateral.

“It would not be unusual for the Russians ... to try and exercise the lien they have on the Citgo collateral, just because it would be very disruptive and chaotic to the U.S.,” said Dallen of Caracas Capital.

That text links to a Reuters article on the lien:

CARACAS, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA said on Friday it has used 49.9 percent of its shares in U.S. subsidiary Citgo as collateral for loan financing, two months after having used the other 50.1 percent as collateral in a bond operation.

Finance industry publication REDD this week reported that the shares had been pledged as collateral for a $1.5 billion loan from Russian oil firm Rosneft, citing a source and a filing in the state of Delaware.

So, when Venezuela defaults on the loan a large part of U.S. refiner would fall into the hands of Russia's Rosneft. As explained by a more recent Reuters article (I'm selectively quoting relevant paragraphs from that article):

A group of U.S. investors is seeking Washington’s approval to acquire the nearly 50 percent collateral in U.S. refiner Citgo held by Russia’s largest state-owned energy firm Rosneft, one of the investors said.

The move would prevent Moscow from seizing a large part of the U.S. refiner in the event of a full-blown default by its current owner, Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA. Texas-based Citgo operates a 749,000 barrel per day refining network in the United States.

Venezuela handed Rosneft ROSN.MM the 49.9 percent collateral in Citgo PDVSAC.UL in return for a $1.5 billion loan two years ago. The remaining 50.1 percent of shares in Citgo is collateral to holders of PDVSA’s 2020 bond.

The article goes on to explain that Rosneft's acquisition of Citgo in case of Venezuelan default may be in violation of US sanctions on Russian companies. I'm not sure if this has now been resolved. A Washington Post article from December of 2018 still reports the situation as stated in the previous Reuters article.

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