EU warns US over Russia sanctions bill

Brussels, July 26 (IANS) The European Union on Wednesday delivered a stern warning to the US over its plan to impose new sanctions on Russia, opening up the prospect of a rift between the two allies over how to deal with Moscow’s foreign interventions.

EU President Jean-Claude Juncker said the bloc would act “within days” if it does not receive reassurances on the potential impact of new sanctions on European interests, CNN reported.

Russia also reacted angrily, saying the sanctions bill passed by the US House of Representatives on Tuesday risked worsening the already poor relations between the two countries.

The bill targeted key Russian officials in retaliation for Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. It also called for new measures against North Korea and Iran. The measure also limited any effort by the White House to weaken such penalties.

The EU had previously coordinated with the US over sanctions in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. But it feared the latest measures could hit companies that were involved in the financing of a controversial new pipeline, Nord Stream 2, that would carry natural gas from Russia to Germany.

Juncker said the bill could have “unintended unilateral effects” on the EU’s energy security. “This is why 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,” he said.

“America first cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last.”

Germany, which strongly backs the new pipeline, said it was concerned over the sanctions. It would be “unacceptable for the US to use possible sanctions as an instrument to serve the interests of US industry policies,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schäfer said.

The bill awaits a final vote in the Senate before it can be presented to US President Donald Trump. Trump did not indicate whether he will sign the bill, which also gives Congress a way to block any easing of new sanctions against Russia, North Korea and Iran, as well as older ones against Russia.

–IANS

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