European Union condemns US Congress new sanctions against Russian Federation

Laura Christensen
July 27, 2017

The draft USA measures would prohibit American businesses from being involved in energy projects that include Russian companies, including ventures outside Russia. As explained in my new book, The New Geopolitics of Natural Gas, the changing nature of the natural gas markets are increasingly chipping away at the Russian monopoly over Europe, with growing LNG trade, new USA imports and a buildup of new infrastructure to bring alternative sources of gas from the Caspian.

It would double Russia's capacity of 55 billion cubic metres of gas now being sent through the existing Nord Stream pipeline.

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Monday that the EU's executive arm is "following this process with some concern regarding the European Union's energy independence and our energy security interests".

The US House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill to toughen individual US sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.

"We have already said we are extremely negative about the topic of sanctions, especially, the new initiatives the US Congress keeps on advancing". "This is no less disappointing from the point of view of global law and worldwide trade relations", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The bill, drawn up largely in response to Moscow's alleged meddling in the 2016 United States election, calls for new measures against Russia, North Korea and Iran.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel had already denounced an earlier version of the bill for forcing Europe to buy more expensive U.S. liquefied natural gas instead of Russian gas.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov reacted more robustly, describing the vote as "a very serious step towards destroying the possibilities for normalising relations with Russia".

The text also provides for an original mechanism that is displeasing to the White House: the parliamentarians are going to arrogate to itself the right to intervene if Donald Trump were to decide to suspend existing sanctions against Russian Federation.

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Motor vehicles are the country's biggest export, and Volkswagen , Daimler and BMW are among Germany's largest employers. Nearly every diesel model Mercedes-Benz sold in Britain over the past six years is believed to be affected.

Sanctions against North Korea and Iran are included in the measure. "Unilateral measures would undermine this", it notes. The sanctions target primarily the energy sector, crucial for the Russian economy.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement Wednesday that "the Commission concluded today that if our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days".

As such, its biggest victory heading into the summer recess is the measure constraining the president amid investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to sway the 2016 election.

The Nord Stream 2 project presumes the construction of two gas pipelines with a combined annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas.

Ex-Soviet states such as Poland and the Baltic states are unlikely to vote for retaliation to protect a project they have resisted because it would increase European Union dependence on Russian gas.

Other affected projects could include Caspian Sea oil and gas projects, Ukraine gas transit and the Zohr field off the coast of Egypt, due to the participation of Russian companies.

The lower chamber of the Congress of the United States has adopted on Tuesday a near-unanimously new sanctions against Russian Federation, a project that causes anger in Moscow but also in Europe, as it would penalise european companies.

The Kremlin warned that new sanctions would hurt investment involving European partners, with Dimitri Peskov making specific reference to Nord Stream II, a high stakes project for Germany that has at different times raised eyebrows in the Baltic States, Poland, and Sweden.

A European Commission source told that changes late last week to the U.S. draft bill "look much better for EU interests".

Other reports by My Hot News

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