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New US sanctions on Russia raise concerns in Europe

Tuesday, 1 August, 2017 - 14:46

The EU has warned the US that it will be ready to act within days in retaliation for new sanctions against Russia which Brussels fears will endanger the bloc’s energy security.

The comments followed the passage of a bill through the US House of Representatives that would effectively prevent American companies from doing business in Russia’s oil and gas industry. European leaders worry that this could have the knock-on effect of threatening funding for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project connecting Russia with Germany.

The sanctions are in response to the alleged Russian hacking of the 2016 US presidential elections, but some European officials are accusing the US of targeting Russia’s oil and gas industry in order to boost its own exports of liquified natural gas to Europe.

“The U.S. bill could have unintended unilateral effects that impact the EU’s energy security interests, said EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. “If our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days. ‘America First’ cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last, he said.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is already a controversial project in the EU with central and eastern members objecting to what they see as an over reliance on Russian gas for the bloc’s energy supply.

The overwhelming majority by which the sanctions were passed in both the Senate and the House of Representatives all but ensures that President Trump will have to sign them into law, weakening his ability to improve relations between Washington and Moscow.

The Kremlin, which insists that it did not meddle with the US elections, responded last Friday by announcing the expulsion of hundreds of US diplomats.   


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