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Guaido, the National Assembly leader, invoked the constitution and declared himself interim leader pending a new election. "Be on alert, Venezuela!".

The move follows the unusual decision by the USA and other nations last week to recognize the opposition leader of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the interim president of Venezuela instead of Maduro, who was reelected a year ago in an election widely seen as fraudulent.

National Security Adviser John Bolton said today that Maduro and his allies could "no longer loot the assets of the Venezuelan people". "We had expected the USA to work its way up to sanctions as a form of building..." It is the last of eight similar ships that the former Venezuelan leader bought from Spain in 2005 for $1.4 billion. Elected president Nicolás Maduro, meanwhile, remains in power.

He has called world leaders who want him gone "Trump sycophants".

Guaido reportedly told Skai he is concerned about Greece's hesitation to condemn Maduro and invited Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to visit the country to witness first hand the state of its economy.

"While the general belief is that Canadian heavy barrels should benefit with the demise of Venezuela, the notional degree of market share up for grabs for Canada is not as large as for competing countries", RBC says in a report. Brent crude futures surged 2.9% to $61.7 per barrel Tuesday morning on the news, while West Texas Intermediate futures rose 3.4% to $53.9 per barrel.

At UN, US urges all nations to end Venezuela’s ‘nightmare’
Mr Maduro cruised to re-election in May past year amid low turnout and allegations of vote-buying by the Government. Guaido's claim was also supported by Washington's Latin-American allies as well as many European countries.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Paskov called the sanctions "illegal" and added that the restrictions continue an "undisguised interference in its (Venezuela's) internal affairs".

"If you do not find a place for that crude quickly, the room for maneuver will shrink and imports will be affected", said Asdrubal Oliveros, director of Caracas-based consultancy Ecoanalitica.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the sanctions completely undermined confidence in an worldwide financial system that is dominated by the U.S.

According to analysts briefed by Platts, whatever the outcome of Venezuela's political impasse, Rosneft won't be cut off from Venezuelan oil assets, as oil is pretty much the only hard-currency revenue the country can get. Venezuela's ambassador, Jorge Valero, said the Trump administration was preparing a "military invasion" and questioned whether Washington had the moral authority to "impose a diktat" on Caracas.

Mr Maduro remains in control of the country because of support from the military, despite massive protests against his Government amid an economic crisis that has caused millions to flee the country. He said only that all his talks with heads of state have focused on resolving Venezuela's humanitarian crisis and restoring democracy.

"Sanctions on Venezuela will lead to the deterioration of conditions of people's lives", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a news briefing in Beijing.