US sanctions against Russia caught the EU by surprise

Under attack may be large oil companies that participate in the project of the pipeline “Nord stream-2”.

At a meeting in Brussels on 26 July, the European commissioners must agree on a possible response to the adoption on the eve of the lower house of the Congress of the United States (419 votes “for” and 3 “against”) of new sanctions against Russia. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made an unusually emotional appeal, urging your office to consider the reaction to such a step. In his opinion, the decision of the American parliamentarians (it will soon be approved in the Senate) becomes a threat to one of the main priorities of its work, that is, the energy supply of the European Union.

The Americans want to punish Russia for alleged interference in the presidential campaign, and support for Ukrainian separatists and the annexation of Crimea in 2014. In addition, a proposal on sanctions for Iran (he is accused of supporting terrorism) and North Korea (recent launches). For its entry into force requires the signature of the President of Donald trump. The initiative of parliamentarians is perceived as a challenge in the direction of trump, who is still under suspicion of having links with Moscow and could do little against the almost complete unanimity of parliamentarians. “Although the President supports tougher sanctions against North Korea, Iran and Russia, the White house is examining the bill and is waiting for a final” prior to the decision, said the press Secretary of the White house.

The European Commission speaks of “unilateral” step, which breaks with tradition of coordination between the US and EU sanctions against Russia, whose finances and defense industry for three years are targeted. Brussels underlines the importance of the unity of G7 and the Minsk agreements, as well as fears related effects of the American initiative. The fact that it can be fraught with fines or a ban on participation in the American tender for companies which take part in Russian energy exports.

The main goal may be the gas pipeline “Nord stream-2”. He must pass under the Baltic sea from Russia to Germany, and its cost is estimated at 9 billion euros. Work should begin in spring 2018, with the assistance of large enterprises. Engie French, Anglo-Dutch Shell, Austria’s OMV and German Uniper (formerly E. ON) and Wintershall — all of them have become partners of Gazprom. The capacity of the new pipeline (it needs to pass through the bottom of the sea in parallel with the running in 2012, the first “Nord stream”) will be 55 billion cubic meters.

On Tuesday in Brussels said that will involve “all diplomatic channels” and unable to prepare “an adequate response”. In theory, the Europeans could limit American companies access to European banks or to adopt a law to abolish the competence of the American judiciary in relation to companies from the EU. In addition, they could involve the WTO.


To date, diplomatic pressure led to specific amendments. So, the American project focused solely on pipelines, which originate in the Russian territory, not just pass through it. In the draft, which will be transferred to Donald Trump, it is also noted that the President will take a decision on sanctions”, in cooperation with US allies”. In Brussels too believe in the promises of trump, who said during the campaign that would not use energy as a means of pressure. Anyway, the US President can

to say to the Europeans that his country produced liquefied natural gas (it could become the third largest producer in the world) is able to strengthen the security of supply of Europe.

The situation sheds light on contradictions in EU. The fact that the answer to Washington’s actions implies unanimity of all member countries, whereas it is not even on the “Nord stream-2”. Poland and the Baltic States criticize the project because they believe that the increase dependence on Russia. UK is not going to alienate the us Congress ahead of negotiations on the situation after Breccia.

The new US special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, said Le Monde, adopted by the House of representatives, the bill addresses certain concerns of Europeans. At the same time he was critical about the negative reaction of Europe, urging to have a strategic vision that goes beyond trade and energy issues. “The EU itself has recognized the need to diversify supplies, he said. — The “Nord stream” — it was a political project that allows Russia to achieve the objectives in Ukraine and in Europe.”