New sanctions imposed by the United States on Russia could be considered as protectionist measures, Maxim Medvedkov, Russia’s chief World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiator, told Sputnik on Tuesday.

Sanctions are a tool of political nature, while the WTO had always presented itself as a platform free from politics and should stay like this in the future, the Russian official said.

“The sanctions imposed on us are increasingly looking like protectionism. In the last US [sanctions] package there is a direct possibility to limit foreign participation in the construction of export pipelines. Against the backdrop of US plans to increase gas deliveries to Europe, this could be classified as protectionism. It is cynical protectionism,” Medvedkov, who is also the director of the Russian Economic Ministry’s Department for Trade Negotiations, said.

Earlier in the month, US President Donald Trump signed a bill imposing sweeping sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. The bill targets Russia’s financial and energy sectors and counteracts the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Europe.

France and Germany have so far spoken out against the bill as it affects European industries while advancing US commercial interests.

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.

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