The text of the new US bill on anti-Russia sanctions has been “significantly improved” compared to its earlier version, which was presented in June, something which can be attributed to consultations carried out by the European Commission and the German government, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said on Wednesday.
The US House of Representatives approved by a 419-3 vote on Tuesday a new version of a bill that would impose sweeping sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, and limit President Donald Trump’s ability to lift the restrictions on Moscow. The measures target Russia’s defense, intelligence, mining, shipping and railway industries, and restrict dealings with Russian banks and energy companies. The proposed bill also considers Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project as a threat to Ukraine’s and the European Union’s energy security.
“The text, compared to what I saw about 4-6 weeks ago, has been significantly improved, including on the important issue of Russian energy supplies to Europe… the European Commission and the federal government has carried out work to explain [the issue] successfully,” Schaefer said at a briefing.
The spokesman stressed that the European Union was ready to work “in close cooperation” with the United States on the issue of sanctions against North Korea, Russia and Iran.
However, earlier in the day, France and Germany spoke out against the bill as one that adversely affects European industries while advancing US commercial interests.
The bill, which is yet to be approved by the US Senate and the administration of US President Donald Trump, has already prompted criticism within the European Union. Thus, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern have condemned the draft of new US sanctions, which, they said on June 15, were about “selling American liquefied natural gas and ending the supply of Russian natural gas to the European market.”
In April, Gazprom’s subsidiary Nord Stream 2 AG signed a deal with French Engie, UK’s Royal Dutch Shell, Austria’s OMV and Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, which agreed to provide part of long-term financing of the gas pipeline project, estimated at 9.5 billion euros ($10.6 billion).
The Nord Stream 2 project presumes the construction of two gas pipelines with a combined annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas. The new pipeline is planned to be laid along the existing Nord Stream pipeline route from the Russian coast through the Baltic Sea, on to a hub in Germany.