EU, Russia, Iran oppose US sanctions
Washington faces retaliation
RUSSIA and Iran gave warning that they were moving to retaliate against Washington after the House of Representatives backed new US sanctions on Moscow, Tehran and North Korea.
Meanwhile, the EU said the move, which was also criticised by Germany, might affect its energy security and it stood ready to act too.
The lower house of the US Congress overwhelmingly voted on Tuesday to impose new sanctions on Moscow, Tehran and Pyongyang and to force US President Donald Trump to obtain lawmakers’ permission before easing any punitive measures on Russia.
“This is rather sad news from the point of view of Russia-US ties,” said Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson. “We are talking about an extremely unfriendly act.”
He said President Vladimir Putin would decide if and how Moscow would retaliate once the fresh sanctions became law, while Russia’s deputy foreign minister warned the move was taking bilateral relations into uncharted waters, killing hope of improving them in the future.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said yesterday that his country will give a necessary response to the new sanctions. Iran is used to these kinds of “hostilities” and knows how to deal with them, Rouhani said in a cabinet meeting.
“Iranians well know that they should resist and stand against their enemies,” he said. “The Iranians have faced numerous pressures, sanctions and accusations by US politicians and their propaganda machine. The Americans cannot tolerate an independent and influential country (like Iran) in this sensitive region,” he said.
Sanctions against Iran are mainly in response to Tehran’s growing missile programme.
Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry head of foreign relations department Volker Treier said: “If German companies are no longer allowed to work on pipeline projects, important projects for security of supply can come to a standstill.”
The sanctions still need to be approved by the Senate and by Trump himself. But Bob Corker, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said yesterday the measure was likely to become law “very, very soon”.
Trump, who has found his presidency embroiled in a row over his associates’ alleged ties to Moscow and is on the defensive over accusations Moscow helped him win election last year, has said he is keen to try to mend ties with Russia that are languishing at a post-Cold War low.
But most White House watchers believe Trump will reluctantly sign off on the new sanctions, given deep support for them among US lawmakers, including fellow Republicans, and his desire to avoid being accused of being soft on Moscow.
For its part, the EU frets the new US move could throw up obstacles to its firms doing business with Russia and threaten the bloc’s energy supply lines.
The Kremlin, which denies interfering in the 2016 US presidential election to the benefit of Trump – a charge that helped propel the House action – says Washington is in the grip of anti-Russian hysteria.
Moscow has called the new sanctions “an extremely unfriendly step” that would hurt bilateral ties and international trade.
Peskov complained of a blow against international law. But he said Moscow would wait until the sanctions became law before fully analysing them and deciding how to respond.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency that relations were now entering “uncharted territory in a political and diplomatic sense”.
Ryabkov said the latest sanctions step in Congress left no room to improve relations in the near future.
He also made it clear that Moscow was growing tired of showing restraint over what it sees as a series of diplomatic slights.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a cabinet meeting in Tehran yesterday.