US Congress backs Russian Federation sanctions which could slow Nord Stream II

Proposed U.S. legislation to expand sanctions against Russian Federation has sparked an angry reaction in Europe, where European Union officials warned Wednesday the moves could undermine the sensitive energy security relationship between Moscow and Western Europe.

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said the United States is not entitled to tell European companies how to do business with a third country, but the legislation has improved from the original proposal.

It would be "unacceptable for the United States to use possible sanctions as an instrument to serve the interests of USA industry policies", Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schäfer said Wednesday.

She added that it is important for the European Union and the United States to continue closely coordinating sanctions against Russian Federation and "in this light, we will examine in detail the bill that has now been approved". The Senate on Friday decisively approved a package of stiff financial sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea. The measure passed the House Tuesday on a vote of 419-3.

Russian Federation 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 move caused discontent among European countries as many fear that sanctions will negatively affect the EU economy.

"It remains important that the United States and Europe continue to closely coordinate their sanctions policy with Russian Federation".

"If our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days".

If the bill clears a vote in the US Senate, it then heads to the desk of US President Donald Trump. The proposed expansion would double the existing pipeline's capacity and make Germany EU's main energy hub.

In his opinion, the stated desire to target the proposed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is seen by some European officials as an attempt to replace cheap Russian gas with more expensive U.S. liquefied natural gas. "To protect ourselves against the extraterritorial effects of U.S. legislation, we will have to work on adjusting our French and European laws".

Moscow had initially hoped that Trump would work to fix a relationship which has slumped to a post-Cold War low, but has watched with frustration as allegations that Moscow interfered with last year's U.S. presidential election and concerns over Trump associates' Russian Federation ties have killed off hopes of détente. "You never impose sanctions on anyone".

Scrapping Nord Stream 2 is likely a non-starter for Germany, said Richard Nephew, the lead sanctions expert in US nuclear negotiations with Iran. The White House has stated the President is open to signing the bill.

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Vanessa Coleman

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