EU warns of action

BRUSSELS • The European Union said yesterday it would respond "within days" to a vote by the US House of Representatives to impose tough new sanctions on Russia that may affect energy flows to Europe.

"The US Bill could have unintended unilateral effects that impact the EU's energy security interests," European Commission head Jean- Claude Juncker said in a statement following talks by top bloc officials on the matter in Brussels. "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," he said, repeating a threat made in May following talks with US President Donald Trump.

The US sanctions package, which also targets North Korea and Iran, was approved overwhelmingly in the House on Tuesday.

The legislation is aimed at punishing the Kremlin for allegedly meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, and Russia's annexation of Crimea.

In an apparent concession, the House modified a provision so the Bill targets only pipelines originating in Russia, sparing those that merely pass through, such as the Caspian pipeline that carries oil from Kazakhstan to Europe.

But Brussels is worried that the fresh wave of measures could end up penalising European firms that contribute to the development of Russia's energy sector.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2017, with the headline 'EU warns of action'. Print Edition | Subscribe