Germany hits out at new United States sanctions against Russian Federation

Germany and Austria have voiced sharp criticism of the latest USA sanctions against Moscow because they could affect European businesses involved in piping Russian natural gas to Europe.

"Energy supply to Europe is a European issue, not the U.S. one".

He said it was "strange" that sanctions meant to punish Russian Federation for alleged interference in the USA elections could also trigger penalties against European companies.

Among the French firms that are involved in the Nord Stream 2 project is utility Engie.

On Thursday, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said in a joint statement the sanctions, if implemented, could threaten Russian gas supplies to Europe.

It remains to be seen if U.S. President Donald Trump will approve the senators' proposal to sanction European firms that take part in or finance energy projects like the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

The bill as originally introduced was exclusively about slapping new sanctions on Iran. It adds that "threatening German, Austrian and other European enterprises, which take part in the gas supply projects such as the Nord Stream II together with Russian Federation or finance them, with penalties on the U.S. market would add an absolutely new and highly negative aspect in relations between the USA and Europe".

The pipeline project was conceived by Russian Federation and Germany as a way to avoid sending gas to Europe through an existing pipeline that runs through Ukraine, which has proved to be unreliable at times because of a long-running spat between Ukraine and Russian Federation over the cost of gas and other contract terms. The move was not coordinated with European Union allies. Russian state energy giant Gazprom already supplies about one-third of the region's gas. "Who gives us energy and how we decide is according to the rules of openness and market competition".

The two politicians then urged the US authorities to back away from these plans and said that they "very much support" the efforts of the US Department of State aimed at changing the bill concerning the sanctions.

The draft bill approved on Wednesday would penalize key sectors of Russia's economy, including mining, metals, shipping and railways. But lawmakers attached a bipartisan amendment on Russian Federation to it early this week.

  • Leroy Wright