European Union concerned over United States bill on Russian Federation sanctions

Posted July 26, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman and European Union officials spoke on July 24, a day after the White House said that President Donald Trump is open to new legislation that would slap fresh sanctions on Russia and limit his ability to ease or lift them by himself.

"The measures could impact a potentially large number of European companies doing legitimate business under EU measures with Russian entities in the railways، financial، shipping or mining sectors، among others،" warns the note. Proposed measures include fines for foreign companies that aid Moscow in building energy export pipelines such as the the Nord Stream 2, a €9.5bn (£85bn) project to carry Russian gas across the Baltic and into north Europe.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has called for an urgent review of how the European Union should respond if the United States imposes new sanctions on Russian Federation, which would hurt the European interest and the European companies operating in the energy space. Leading EU politicians, German minister of foreign affairs Sigmar Gabriel among them, have expressed worry that the USA could use the sanctions as a pretext to replace Russian natural gas in Europe's energy supply with American gas, and thus the sanctions have an economic background as well.

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The draft United States sanctions law would target Russian energy, financial, railways, shipping, and metals and mining sectors.

It would also sharply limit U.S. President Donald Trump's ability to lift any sanctions against Russian Federation.

"We are working with our European partners on implementing a number of large-scale projects", said Peskov, when asked about the possible impact of the new USA sanctions on projects like Nord Stream 2.

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"We therefore call on the US Congress/authorities to engage with the partners, including the European Union, to ensure coordination and to avoid any unintended consequences of the measures discussed".

His refusal to do so would be likely to trigger political backlash in Washington, given the ongoing FBI and congressional investigations into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election and contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials. The bill, if signed into law by the U.S. President, will also give USA lawmakers the power to veto any attempt by the president to lift the sanctions. The document notes that Brussels must "be ready to act in the coming days" if the U.S. takes action "without taking into account the EU's concerns".

In the opinion of the European Commission, the American sanctions could bring repercussions for EU businesses, especially energy companies.

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