Austria and Germany irked by new US Senate sanctions bill on the Russian Federation 

Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The nations of Austria and Germany are irked by proposals by the Senate of the United States that seeks fresh economic sanctions on the Russian Federation. Of course, the House of Representatives and Donald Trump, the president of America, could block the bill. Despite this, the ill-intensions of the Senate towards the Russian Federation is creating anger in the corridors of power in Austria and Germany respectively.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany is intent on showing that the European Union (EU) is a force in its own right. At the same time, Merkel is increasingly disillusioned by the administration of Trump in relation to many serious issues. This notably applies to immigration, climate change, and protectionism.

The proposed new Senate bill is aimed at oil and gas projects of the Russian Federation. Hence, European firms in the EU would face sanctions if they worked with the Russian Federation in the energy sector.

Political elites in Moscow are disillusioned by ongoing sanctions in relation to the crisis in Crimea and further afield in the Ukraine. Yet, while the EU favors the Ukrainian angle vis-à-vis the Russian Federation, it is equally true that some European nations seek a fresh approach with President Vladimir Putin.

Sigmar Gabriel, the Foreign Minister of Germany, and Chancellor Christian Kern of Austria, both issued a joint statement. They hinted strongly that energy-related issues, including Nord Stream 2, belong to European nations and not the United States.

The joint statement by Gabriel and Kern stated, “To threaten companies in Germany, Austria and other European firms with fines in the US if they take part in or finance energy projects like Nord Stream 2 represents a new and negative dimension to US-European relations.”

Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State of the United States, also expressed dismay towards the Senate bill. Hence, Tillerson desires dialogue and renewed “flexibility” with political elites in Moscow.

According to Austria and Germany, the Senate bill is solely aimed at enhancing America at the expense of Europe. In other words, the bill is about increasing exports from America and further forcing the Russian Federation into the energy shadows of the EU.

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