The US lawmakers have recently voted overwhelmingly to pass a bill increasing sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, establishing veto-proof majorities for the measure that also allows Congress to block President Trump from easing sanctions.
The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act is the first joint effort taken by the both parties presented in the Congress since the moment when Trump took office.
The notion of fighting the so-called “axis of evil” that was introduced almost two decades ago by the Bush administration in the American political life is now being abused by US lawmakers, which are clearly Russophobic. Now Russia is added to the list of “authoritarian political regimes of Iraq, Iran and North Korea.” In contrast to the McCarthy era, the Countering America’s Adversaries Act now clearly states that on top of Iran and North Korea, Russia is the enemy of the United States and Washington is planning to use all means possible to bring Moscow down, abusing such strategies as the introduction of unilateral sanctions against any state that was put on the “axis of evil” list.
Currently, there is neither a specified span of time after which sanctions can be revisited nor is there clear criteria that specifies how this option can be approached. Therefore, it is quite clear that even if the US-Russian relations are going to improve in the foreseeable future, it will take several decades for US lawmakers to make adjustments to this law, as it happened, for example, with the Jackson–Vanik amendments. This led to political analysts cracking jokes about the need to introduce anti-Russian sanctions as an amendment to the US Constitution, since what we have now on our hands only differs slightly from the consequences of such a decision.
However, what could look like a warmongering intent of US lawmakers from the first glance is clearly an attempt to obtain an unfair advantage over Russia on the European energy markets. Washington spares no words in defending its hydrocarbon producers, so if Russia is to be put on the list of US enemies for American oligarchs to profit from this, so be it. At least, the Die Welt is not afraid to put it that way. Even commentators across the United States point out that the new sanctions act is not just limiting the capability of any president to ease them, but it strongly supports the interests of US hydrocarbon producers at the expense of European companies. The Frankfurter Allgemeine stresses that Washington is not ashamed to openly boost American gas export options in a bid to create jobs in the United States. In the past, US lawmakers wouldn’t often state that their commercial interests are more important to them than their cooperation with the EU, but times have obviously changed.
A significant number of European observers note that the new anti-Russian sanctions are targeting European countries, especially Germany. The reason for this lies both in Germany’s desire to defy the US by establishing special relations with Russia and Berlin’s post-Brexit attempts to take a key role in the EU. Yet, the complexity of US-German relations will not allow Washington to trick Berlin in defending American interests at the expense of its own, as it’s often been the case with Britain. That is why the so-called anti-Russian sanctions are nothing more than yet another attempt that Washington makes in a bid to force Germany into submission.
Therefore, one shouldn’t be surprised by the tough reaction that Germany and the EU are showing in connection with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. German businesses are now pretty vocal while accusing the US of using sanctions to increase the export of American oil and gas to Europe. The coordinator of transatlantic relations in the German government Jürgen Hardt would describe this step as a violation of international law. His country can not stomach the desire of the US to influence the energy policy of Europe and Germany itself through sanctions.
In Europe, even opponents of the construction of the “North Stream-2″ express dissatisfaction with the new sanctions of Washington against Moscow, notes The Washington Post.
It’s curious that the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker has already threatened the US with retaliatory measures. According to him, Trump’s pre-election slogan “America first” can not mean that Europe’s interests would not be taken into account. What kind of steps the European Union can make remains unclear. However, experts agree that among such measures one can find certain legislation initiatives that would limit the access of American companies to the loans provided by European banks.
It’s clear at this point that the European Union will not tolerate a blow the US has been trying to cast against its energy projects, the European media sources say, as the European energy security concerns, including the Nord Stream-2 project, is none of Trump’s business.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”