New penalties against Moscow proposed by US lawmakers violate international law and officials in Brussels should consider countermeasures, the German economy minister said on Monday.
“We consider this as being against international law, plain and simple,” Brigitte Zypries told the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain.
“Of course we don’t want a trade war. But it is important the European Commission now looks into countermeasures,” she added.
According to the minister, “the Americans cannot punish German companies because they operate economically in another country.”
Last week, both chambers of the US Congress decided to impose new sanctions against Russia over its Crimea reunification and alleged meddling in US elections. The bill has still to be signed by US President Donald Trump. This is the first time Washington has made a move against Moscow without European consent.
The bill appears to target Russia’s Nord Stream-2 pipeline that will deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany. The proposed expansion would double the existing pipeline’s capacity and make Germany EU’s main energy hub.
The legislation seeks to introduce individual sanctions for contributing in Russian energy projects and targets major sectors of Russia’s economy, including defense, railway, and banking industries.
The new sanctions have been criticized by several officials in Europe, including the Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.
Critics of the US government argue the sanctions could affect European energy security and serve Washington’s economic interests – in line with the “America First” policy of President Trump.