Five EU firms taking part in Russia’s Nord Stream II gas pipeline could face US fines under new sanctions approved by Congress.
The bill was passed through the House of Representatives by 413 votes to three, “targets the things that matter” to the Kremlin, Ed Royce, a Republican deputy, said in the debate in Washington on Tuesday.
The move to toughen United States sanctions against Russia has caused European Union officials to worry saying they may cause upheaval in Europe’s energy market.
The measures threaten to impose fines on investors in energy projects in which Russian entities have at least a 33 percent stake.
The new round of sanctions is said to be intent on punishing Russia for its meddling in last year’s presidential election. The House overwhelmingly approved sanctions legislation on Tuesday afternoon.
The Trump administration is unlikely to veto it because the whopping majority in Congress could subsequently overturn such a veto.
A US source, who asked not to be named, told EUobserver that they would be unlikely to face imminent action but that they should see the bill as a “risk”.
“It’s a warning shot that we may sanction it [Nord Stream II] in the future – it increases the risk,” the source said.
The new sanctions are said to have important implications for Europe because they target any company that contributes to the development, maintenance or modernization of Russia’s energy export pipelines.
The controversial pipeline project between Russia and Germany known as Nord Stream 2, which is owned by Gazprom but includes financial stakes from European companies, would almost surely be affected as the project aims to carry Russian natural gas under the Baltic Sea, bypassing countries like Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic States.
Hungarian diplomat, Andras Simonyi, has advised as thus; “The EU should heed the advice of those who are recommending a reconsideration of the project, including the possibility of abandoning it … Germany especially cannot continue to argue that Nord Stream II is just a business proposition”.
The Russian-owned Nord Stream II consortium told EUobserver on Tuesday that it “does not comment on ongoing legislative processes”.