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Gabriel, Kern; Juncker

EU leaders furious after US votes new sanctions against Russia

Europeans are furious after the US House of Representatives approved by a 419-3 vote a new version of a bill on Tuesday that would impose sweeping sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, as well as limit President Donald Trump’s ability to lift the restrictions on Moscow.

Published: July 27, 2017, 10:43 am

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    Brussels

    The measures targeting Russia’s defense, intelligence, mining, shipping and railway industries, and restricting dealings with Russian banks and energy companies, has caused outrage in Europe.

    EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement reported by Reuters: “If our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days. ‘America First’ cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last.”

    Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said he considers the possible new US sanctions against Russia inadmissible. “I consider the US sanctions against Russia absolutely unacceptable. Political interests should not be mixed up with the economical ones, to the detriment of employment in the European Union,” Kern wrote on his Facebook page.

    The Austrian leader had voiced his opposition earlier, on June 15, when Kern and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel condemned the draft of new US sanctions, which, they said, were about “selling American liquefied natural gas and ending the supply of Russian natural gas to the European market”.

    France’s foreign ministry on Wednesday blasted new US sanctions against Russia as being “at odds with international law due to their extra-territorial reach”.

    Martin Schaefer, a German foreign ministry spokesman, said that the US wanted to stymie the Nordstream 2 pipeline so that American firms could sell their expensive shale gas in Europe. It would be “unacceptable for the United States to use … sanctions as an instrument to serve the interests of US industry,” he said.

    Volker Treier, the head of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, voiced concerns on Wednesday that German firms could be adversely affected. “That would heavily affect the German economy was well,” Treier warned. He called on the European Commission to demand a clarification from Washington and prevent that new US sanctions against Russia applied to firms in different countries.

    The new round of sanctions by Washington is “equally dreadful from the point of view of international law and international trade relations,” Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

    “What is happening defies common sense. The authors and sponsors of this bill are taking a very serious step towards destroying any potential for normalising relations with Russia,” Sergey Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, told reporters.

    Russia’s foreign ministry expects the bill to become law, which would prompt Moscow to retaliate, Ryabkov warned.

    Paul Craig Roberts, columnist for FWM noted that “President Trump is under full-scale attack from the military/security complex, the US presstitute media, the Democratic Party, and from many Republicans, such as Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham and Republican Senator from Arizona John McCain simply because President Trump wants to reduce the dangerous tensions between the two major nuclear powers.

    “What explains the total lack of concern for their own lives on the part of the populations in South Carolina and Arizona who send to the Senate and keep sending to the Senate two morons determined to provoke war between the US and Russia?”

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