The European Union is pushing back against the House-approved measure to strengthen sanctions against Russia, arguing “America first cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last.”
“The U.S. bill could have unintended unilateral effects that impact the EU’s energy security interests,” Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, said in a statement. “This is why the Commission concluded today that if our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days.”
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the measure 419-3 on Tuesday, paving the way for the Senate to approve a similar proposal, which it is expected to do, setting up a showdown with the White House. The measure is especially controversial because not only does it tighten sanctions against Russia for its election interference and invasion of Crimea, but it mandates that the president consult with it before waiving the punitive measures; at present the president can waive sanctions determined to be detrimental to U.S. interests.
President Trump has not said whether he’ll sign the measure, but he sees friendly relations with Russia as an important cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. The approval of the House measure comes amid scrutiny of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian officials in the run up to the 2016 presidential election. U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia interfered in the election in order to boost Trump, though it’s unclear if Moscow’s efforts succeeded. Trump’s equivocation over the issue has led to more speculation about his campaign’s ties to Russian officials—links that are being investigated by the Justice Department and congressional committees.