Austrian Federal Chancellor Christian Kern (SPÖ) and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) commented as follows today (15 June) on the approval by the United States Senate of legislation regarding sanctions against Russia:
Since 2014, Europe and the United States have taken closely coordinated action, as partners, in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and to Russian actions in eastern Ukraine. That was the correct and necessary reaction to behaviour on behalf of Russia that not only jeopardises peace and security in Europe, but also, for the first time since the end of the Cold War, was a flagrant infringement of our principles of inviolable national borders in Europe.
It is in the common interest of the EU and the US to take resolute and unified action with a view to resolving the conflict in Ukraine.
We cannot, however, accept the threat of illegal extraterritorial sanctions being imposed on European companies that are participating in efforts to expand Europe’s energy supply network!
The draft bill of the US is surprisingly candid about what is actually at stake, namely selling American liquefied natural gas and ending the supply of Russian natural gas to the European market. The bill aims to protect US jobs in the natural gas and petroleum industries.
Political sanctions should not in any way be tied to economic interests. Threatening to impose penalties on companies in Germany, Austria and other European countries with regard to their business in the United States if they participate in, or fund, natural gas projects involving Russia, such as Nord Stream 2, impacts European-American relations in a new and very negative way. This is about the competitiveness of our energy-intensive industries, and about thousands of jobs. We therefore strongly support the efforts of the US Department of State to amend this draft bill.
Europe’s energy supply network is Europe’s affair, not that of the United States of America!
We decide who supplies us with energy, and how they do it, and we do so based on transparency and on free market principles.
It would not only be highly regrettable, but would also diminish the effectiveness of our stance on the conflict in Ukraine, if we were to no longer take joint action, and if completely separate interests were to prevail, such as the US’s economic pursuits in the field of gas exports. Foreign policy interests must in no way be linked to economic interests! There is still enough time, and opportunity, to prevent this!