Trump agrees to sign new Russia sanctions bill as EU readies retaliation
The European Union has sounded an alarm about the U.S. moves to step up sanctions on Russia, urging Washington to coordinate with its Group of 7 (G7) partners.
The European Commission, the EU executive, would consider its next steps at a meeting Wednesday in Brussels if U.S. President Donald Trump signs the bill into law, and is willing to consider retaliation, according to an EU official.
Brussels "should stand ready to act within days" if the U.S. measures were "adopted without EU concerns being taken into account," a note obtained by media said.
According to the note, the new U.S. sanctions could "risk breaking the transatlantic and G7 unity" on dealing with Russian aggression in Ukraine.
After warning against unilateral U.S. sanctions at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is concerned Congress' legislation could hit European companies upgrading pipelines in Russia that feed into Ukraine's gas transit system.
"The measures could impact a potentially large number of European companies doing legitimate business under EU measures with Russian entities in the railways, financial, shipping or mining sectors, among others," the note said.
Any significant EU retaliation would need the support, however, of the EU's 28 governments and would face resistance from members of the bloc, such as Britain and Hungary, that are reluctant to upset the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, the White House said that Trump was open to signing legislation toughening sanctions on Russia after Senate and House leaders reached agreement on a bill late last week.
Congressional Democrats said Saturday they had agreed with Republicans on a deal allowing new sanctions targeting Russia, Iran and North Korea in a bill that would limit any potential effort by Trump to try to lift sanctions against Moscow.