Thursday, June 15, 2017

Russia Sanctions: Europe Is Not Amused

The new anti-Russian sanctions are outlined in an amendment to a bill imposing sanctions against Iran. It was approved by the US Senate on Thursday by a majority of 98 to 2, but still needs to pass the House of Representatives and be signed by the US president to become law.

The anti-Russian measures in the amendment involve imposing penalties on enterprises that cooperate with Russian oil and gas companies. A number of European companies are doing just that, participating for example in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.

“Europe's energy supply is a matter for Europe, and not the United States of America!” said [a] joint statement by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern, published on Thursday.

“We cannot accept threatening European companies that contribute to the development of the European energy supply [system] with extraterritorial sanctions that violate the international law.”


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 Russia or finance them, with penalties on the US market would add an absolutely new and highly negative aspect in relations between the US and Europe.”


The Nord Stream II project will give Russia’s Gazprom additional capacity in supplying Europe with gas through a pipeline that would go under the Baltic Sea to Germany.


They also accused the US of attempts to interfere in Europe’s internal affairs and impose its will on its allies by undermining the principle of “open and fair market competition.”

We seem to be maneuvering ourselves to a place between a rock and a hard place.
The amendment on anti-Russian sanctions stipulates “broad new sanctions on key sectors of Russia’s economy, including mining, metals, shipping and railways”


The amendment states that the goal of US policy in this particular case is to “oppose the Nord Stream II pipeline given its detrimental impacts on the European Union's energy security… and energy reforms in Ukraine.”
Apparently the European Union doesn't see the Nord Stream pipeline that way.
US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert refused to comment on the criticism voiced by Austria and Germany that the bill’s real beneficiary is the US energy sector. Instead she said that Washington “welcomes” the first US shipment of the liquefied natural gas to Poland (LNG) that arrived in the Polish port of Swinoujscie last week.

She argued that such shipments provide an alternative to the Russian gas supplies as they come from the countries “that are perhaps more stable.”

“Russia has the ability to turn off the natural gas and it puts the Polish people in a very difficult situation,” Nauert said.
And the US doesn't???
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said that Russia has been historically living under some form of sanctions from the West, which are used as a tool of economic competition as well as a means of containment.

“If there were no situation with Crimea and other problems, they would have invented something else to contain Russia,” he said.
I'm afraid I have to agree with Vlad on that one.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

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