New US Sanctions Bill on Russia is not the Trojan Horse Europeans fear

The US House of Representatives is expected to pass, later today, the Sanctions Bill, which seeks to strengthen economic sanctions against Iran, North Korea and Russia. The Bill first and foremost codifies existing executive orders placing sanctions on Moscow into law and proposes additional measures. However, these new sanctions, including those on Russian energy projects, […]

The US House of Representatives is expected to pass, later today, the Sanctions Bill, which seeks to strengthen economic sanctions against Iran, North Korea and Russia. The Bill first and foremost codifies existing executive orders placing sanctions on Moscow into law and proposes additional measures. However, these new sanctions, including those on Russian energy projects, are left to the discretion of the president and should be imposed in ‘coordination with allies.’

As the European Commission plans to discuss the Russian aspects of the Bill tomorrow, Rasmussen Global has published a background briefing. European governments – especially the Germans and Austrians – have expressed concerns that the Bill could impact on their energy interests, including the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

However, the revised legislation to be adopted specifically invites the US President to, “continue to uphold and seek unity with European and other key partners on sanctions.”

Fabrice Pothier, Director of Rasmussen Global’s Ukraine Project, said:

“This Bill is not the Trojan Horse that Gazprom and its allies have led Europeans to believe. The law before Congress directly addresses European concerns, making it clear that any new sanctions are imposed at the discretion of the president, and must be coordinated with European allies.

“The Bill is aimed firstly at Russia, and secondly at the US Administration. The Congress is raising the stakes for Russia’s election interference and continued aggression against Ukraine, and it wants to create a backstop to prevent the President from lifting sanctions unilaterally. European governments should welcome more predictability in US sanctions policy.

“There is a wider point that Europeans need to consider. For all the diplomatic efforts to deliver a ceasefire in Ukraine, the situation is deteriorating. The daily deaths in eastern Ukraine will not end until Russia sees that disruption is not worth it.

“Transatlantic unity on Russia sanctions is important. Neither side should play with this unity for the sake of commercial interests or electioneering. This would be self-defeating. The only winner will be Russia. However, that unity should have a purpose: solve Europe’s current deadliest conflict. Instead of criticising, European governments and institutions should ask themselves what else they need to do to change Russia’s behaviour.”

ENDS

NOTES: Read the briefing here

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