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EU concerned over U.S. sanctions on Russia

By Andrew V. Pestano
EU concerned over U.S. sanctions on Russia
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday expressed concern for the United States' planned toughening of sanctions against Russia because it could adversely affect Europe's energy independence. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

July 26 (UPI) -- The European Union on Wednesday said it is concerned with the United States' proposed additional sanctions against Russia, citing a threat to energy independence.

The EU comment comes after the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to toughen sanctions on Russia, as well as Iran and North Korea. The bill is expected to pass the U.S. Senate, as the body previously approved a version of the legislation.

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Though the United States took into account the EU's energy concerns, the U.S. House "nevertheless foresees the imposition of sanctions on any company (including European) which contributes to the development, maintenance, modernization or repair of energy export pipelines" by Russia, the European Commission said in a statement.

U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said it was Congress' job to hold the countries who worked with Russia accountable for undermining the United States and disrupting global stability.

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"The bill we just passed with overwhelming bipartisan support is one of the most expansive sanctions packages in history," Ryan said in a statement. "It tightens the screws on our most dangerous adversaries in order to keep Americans safe."

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The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the sanctions next month, possibly after a recess.

The EU said implementation of the sanctions -- depending on circumstances -- could adversely affect infrastructure transporting energy resources to Europe, such as the maintenance and upgrade of pipelines in Russia that supply Ukraine's gas transit system.

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The EC said it has raised its concerns directly with the U.S. government. EC President Jean-Claude Juncker said allies must be united over the terms of sanctions in order to ensure the success of the Minsk cease-fire agreement in the Ukrainian conflict.

"The EU is fully committed to the Russia sanctions regime. However, G7 unity on sanctions and close coordination among allies are at the heart of ensuring the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements," Juncker said. "This is a core objective that the EU and the U.S. share. The U.S. bill could have unintended unilateral effects that impact the EU's energy security interests. This is why the Commission concluded today that if our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days."

The Ukrainian conflict began as pro-Russia separatists seized portions of the two eastern Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, shortly after Russia seized the Ukrainian province of Crimea.

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Juncker also made reference to President Donald Trump's "America first" approach to economic relations and diplomatic policy.

"America first cannot mean that Europe's interests come last," Juncker said.

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