Russia’s counter-sanctions against the US take effect this Tuesday. Moscow has ordered the US to cut its diplomatic presence in Russia by more than 750 people by September. Two diplomatic properties have also been seized.
Last week, the US Congress passed a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea. Washington says the restrictions on Moscow come in response to alleged Russian meddling in the US election. The sanctions target various parts of the economy, including energy.
The bill punishes any company involved in developing or maintaining Russian-related pipelines. That, therefore, places a number of European companies in its scope. The bill specifically targets Nord Stream-2, the gas pipeline extending from Russia across the Baltic Sea to Germany.
Meanwhile, the EU has threatened to retaliate against the US moves, if they threaten to harm European business interests.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in response to the US sanctions bill: “We will oppose an “America First” industrial policy under the pretext of sanctions.”
RT: The German foreign minister’s not the only one to say Washington’s just promoting its own interests with these sanctions. Is that a fair claim?
Maximilian Krah: It is a fair claim insofar as these sanctions are internal American politics. It is a little bit unfair that he is linking it with President Trump because obviously the Senate and the House [of Representatives] have imposed the sanctions to harm Trump. So, the sanctions are not the ‘America First’ policy of Donald Trump; it is an anti-Russian policy of lawmakers on Capitol Hill against the president. But of course, those sanctions are illegal, and it is absolutely unacceptable that America is harming third countries…
RT: The US sanctions are just the president’s signature away from being enacted. Do you think Washington will listen to Europe’s concerns?
MK: I don’t think so. If you follow the US media, you’ll see that America manage their own problems and they are focused on themselves. The Washington establishment hasn’t accepted yet that outsider Donald Trump won the presidential election. The new administration has clearly management problems within: you see their hire and fire policy in the White House. We don’t expect that they look so much what the allies in Europe say, but I am quite happy that the Europeans say very clearly what they think about these sanctions. It is clear that America is proposing these sanctions only because of internal political issues and not because of a real misbehavior by the Russians.
RT: If the US bill passes and Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline comes under restriction, Germany’s threatened countermeasures but what can it actually do? Would Washington have concerns?
MK: Usually, Germany is giving loud words. I don’t think we will see counter-sanctions. I think it is quite unrealistic. A delay of Nord Stream is expensive for Germany especially as the energy market is in change because of the move to the so-called clean energy. In the end, I expect the sanctions will be softened quite quickly when America realizes that it can’t destruct the whole world because of their internal problems and of the vanity of some senators like McCain and Lindsey Graham. I am slightly optimistic that America is smart enough to change its disastrous policy toward Russia…maybe not short-time but in within the next two years. Europeans should put pressure, so it gets quicker than two years. This is what I expect that the Europeans really put the diplomatic pressure and this will fasten the processes in Washington.