German minister urges 'countermeasures' against United States for Russian Federation sanctions

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Earlier, German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries lashed out at the US's anti-Russian sanctions program, saying that it violates global law and punishes European firms; Zypries called on the European Union to consider countermeasures against Washington. The anonymous source, according to Zvezda, claims the EU will limit American companies' access to European banks in response to sanctions against Russian Federation.

As Moscow expels hundreds of United States diplomats in angry response to new sanctions, Washington's move is also exposing deep divisions in the European Union over energy policy and a major Russian-led pipeline project in the Baltic Sea. "Sanctions policies are neither a suitable nor an appropriate instrument for promoting national export interests and the domestic energy sector", Gabriel said last week.

At the heart of the dispute is Nord Stream 2, a €9.5 billion pipeline project led by Kremlin-controlled energy giant Gazprom, which from 2019 is meant to double the volume of Russian gas pumped under the Baltic Sea directly to Germany.

The US has only limited trade with Russian Federation in the first place, after all, and round after round of sanctions since 2015 has quickly exhausted most of that trade, meaning for new US sanctions to have any noticeable effect, they can't really target Russian Federation directly.

Germany's economy minister called on the European Union to begin looking into countermeasures against Washington's latest sanctions against Russian Federation.

The move has rattled German business leaders and politicians.

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"Unfortunately, that is exactly what they are doing". This measure directly concerns European companies that cooperate with the Russia's Nord Stream-2 pipeline project.

The new USA sanctions aim "to squeeze Russian gas out of the European market to give room to American gas".

Volker Treier, head of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce's global committee, said last week, "One is left with the sense that the United States is looking to its own economic interests".

"In any case, the law stipulates [the US] holding preliminary consultations with us Europeans, before this can happen", Gabriel said, referring to the possible imposition of the new anti-Russian sanctions.

Also on Monday, however, U.S. vice-president Mike Pence heard warm praise for the sanctions during talks with leaders of the three Baltic states in Estonia.

In a joint statement, Berlin and Vienna said last week that the new United States sanctions usher in a "a new and very negative quality in European American relations".

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