As a proposed new anti-Russian sanctions bill makes its way through congress, the outcry has been swift among Washington’s European allies.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, speaking to the EU College of Commissioners denounced the proposal saying:
The US 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. America first cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last.
Juncker was not alone in his condemnation. The foreign ministry of France was even more explicit, denouncing the proposed law as illegal under international law:
This bill, if promulgated, would allow the enactment of measures against European natural or legal persons for situations that have no connection with the United States.
As a result, the extraterritorial scope of the text appears to be unlawful under international law. We have challenged similar texts that have been taken in the past.
To protect ourselves against the extraterritorial effects of US legislation (or other legislation), we will need to work both to adapt our national systems and to update European arrangements.
Germany also chimed in. Martin Schaefer, spokesman for the German foreign office, said the measure was clearly designed to hurt German and European business interests:
This is concerning not only for the German industry… Sanctions against Russia should not become a tool of industrial policy in the US interests.
European trade figures with Russia are vastly larger than US-Russian trade, with the former amounting to $378 billion in 2012 (before sanctions), having fallen to $213 billion in 2016. US trade volume with Russia amounted only $38.1 billion in 2013.
A subsidiary of Russia’s state oil giant Gazprom signed a deal with with French Engie, UK’s Royal Dutch Shell, Austria’s OMV and Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall in April to provide financing for the $10.6 billion North Stream 2 gas pipeline project.
Considering the US’ aggressive anti-Russian policies are supposedly intended to protect Europe from a putative Russian menace, one would think Washington would be concerned about harming the economic interests of its allies.
In fact, US behavior merely exposes the truth of US policy – namely that sanctions and confrontation with Russia are a tool to constrict the growth of EU-Russian economic ties and insure that the “trans-atlantic alliance”, i.e., American military and economic domination of Europe, is preserved as the foundation of the “international system.”
While increased trade between Europe and Asia is a natural outcome of geography, the United States can only maintain its dominant position in the Eastern Hemisphere by increasingly desperate military and economic measures. Washington is constantly struggling with centrifugal forces pushing Europe away from its artificial tether to North America.
The US sanctions bill is also clearly designed to hamstring President Donald Trump and make it impossible to carry out any form of détente, or de-escalation, with Russian President Putin.
Yet if present European reaction is any barometer, with this latest round of economic warfare leveled at Eurasia, the neo-con globalist policy makers in Washington may have finally reached a bridge too far.