How Europe relates to new anti-Russian sanctions

Don Gone (Don Gonyea) talks with REM Korteweg (Korteweg, Rem), head of programme “Europe in the world” (Europe in the World) at the Institute”, Clingendael”, about the worries that the Europeans are in connection with the adoption in the U.S. a new bill on sanctions against Russia.

Don Gone, host: the White house claims that President trump will sign a new bill on anti-Russian sanctions. The bill has caused in Europe surprise and concern. What surprised Europe? The bill affects the gas pipeline project, expanding the powers of the legislative branch indicates the desire for revenge. To explain what the consequences of this new bill on anti-Russian sanctions could have on Europe, I was invited by REM Korteweg, of the Institute “Clingendael”, Netherlands Institute of international relations.

REM Korteweg: thank you.

— Let’s start with General issues. How the EU responds to this new bill?

The European Union has responded to a feeling of anxiety and uncertainty. And not because the EU does not agree that Russia — or Iran and North Korea, for that matter – must be curbed. Europeans concerned one specific point, namely the point of the bill, which States that the United States may impose sanctions against energy projects in which Russia is directly involved.

And we are talking about such relations that Europe maintains with Russia and supports the U.S. — relationship with energy.

Exactly. The United States did not import gas from Russia. Meanwhile Europe gets from Russia about a third of the gas consumed on its territory. In the new project on construction of gas pipeline “Nord stream-2” attended a number of major energy companies of Western Europe. Therefore, from the point of view of the European Commission, any sanctions that could harm the implementation of the “Nord stream-2”, to strike and for several major European companies.

— Before we delved too far, I think you should tell you a bit about the “Northern stream-2”.

— Right. “Nord stream-2” is one of the most controversial Russian energy projects in Europe over the last 10 years. It causes a lot of controversy because it involves the construction of a pipeline that goes from Russia directly to Germany via the Baltic sea bypassing the territory of Ukraine, which is a considerable profit from the transit of Russian gas.

— This project has already caused a lot of controversy. Now the situation is exacerbated by the new sanctions. Do Europeans believe that they can suffer that really is a conflict between the US and Russia?

— I believe that is the right description of the situation. Until now, the US and EU acted together in their attempts to exert pressure on Russia. Now, in response to Russia’s intervention in the US presidential election and hacker attacks, the US has rightly decided to choose their own tactics of behavior towards Russia and tougher sanctions. But Europeans are concerned that they may be between two fires, if USA will impose sanctions against such projects, without coordinating their actions with the European Union.

— Russia has responded to the adoption of this bill by the U.S. Congress. She was ordered to reduce the number of employees of U.S. embassies in Russia and seized part of departmenti. As it reacted to the Europeans?

— Until I saw from the Europeans no reaction to these events. I believe that we have not yet reached the point of no return, after which the transatlantic community will have serious friction. But I believe that once this law is signed by the President — and we have already reported that it would happen — the US will not take any measures unilaterally, without consulting the Commission if they decide somehow to oppose such projects as the “Nord stream-2”.

— REM Korteweg, head of programme “Europe in the world” at the Institute”, Clingendael”. Thank you.

— Thank you!