Russia expects Venezuela to have trouble repaying loan

FILE - In this file pool photo taken on Oct. 4, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro ...

FILE - In this file pool photo taken on Oct. 4, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro ...

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia says it expects Venezuela to have problems repaying debt ahead of an upcoming payment on a Russian loan.

Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak told Russian state news agencies Tuesday "there will probably be problems," adding that "everything now depends on the army, on the soldiers, on how true they will be to their service and oath."

Storchak says Venezuela owes Russia $3 billion with repayments twice a year of around $100 million, with the next due in March. Russia also has extensive commercial interests in Venezuela, including state oil company Rosneft's partnership with Petroleos de Venezuela SA, a state company placed under sanctions Monday by the United States.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says the Kremlin shares the view of the Venezuelan government that the sanctions are "illegal." He said Moscow views these sanctions as a tool of unfair competition on part of the United States.