Putin warning: New US sanctions could threaten Russia’s tight grip on Europe

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Previous sanctions resulted in a Swiss-Dutch company immediately halting work on the natural gas pipeline. Two Russian-owned pipe-laying vessels are likely to be used to finish the final 100 miles of the project, led by state-owned firm Gazprom. Texas Republican Ted Cruz and New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen are behind the new bill with Ms Shaheen explained: “Congress must once again take decisive action and stand in this pipeline’s path.”

Mr Cruz said the bill “makes clear those involved with vessels installing the pipeline will face crippling and immediate sanctions”.

The pipeline would send gas under the Baltic Sea and Vladimir Putin has previously said it should be completed around the turn of the year.

Moscow considers the sanctions contrary to international law.

Politicians and energy companies in Germany support the pipeline as it will give the nation steady gas supplies and help it ease the need for coal and nuclear power.

German Economic Affairs and Energy Minister Peter Altmaeir said: “At a time that the coronavirus pandemic puts massive pressure on countries across the globe, it is not right (for the U.S.) to keep escalating this sanctions threat, which is extraterritorial and thus in conflict with international law.”

For the bill to become law, it will need to pass both the US House of Representatives and the Senate.

It will then be up to Donald Trump to sign it into law.

The bill also seeks to sanction companies providing services or facilities for the vessels involved in building the pipeline.

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The US introduced a large series of sanctions on Russia in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea.

The European Union did similarly.

Blacklisted by these sanctions were senior Russian officials, separatist commanders and Russian firms accused of undermining Ukrainian sovereignty.

The US sanctions affected some of Russia’s most powerful businessmen.

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This included members of Mr Putin’s inner circle.

Though the Russian President himself escaped sanctions.

This was thought to be to allow Western leaders to continue to put diplomatic pressure on and meet him face to face.

It is generally accepted that Russian cooperation is needed in regards to North Korea, Iran and Syria.

A consequence of the annexation of Crimea was Russia’s suspension from the G8.

At last year’s G7 meeting in Biarritz, Trump argued for Russia to return.

His argument was Moscow could be a useful partner in several key diplomatic issues.

Italy’s Giuseppe Conte supported Trump according to reports, while Japan’s Shinzo Abe was neutral.

Other members were reticent as they felt Putin’s Russia stood for the opposite of the liberal democracies of the rest of the G7.

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