In the eyes of Europeans, Donald Trump may be guilty of many things, not least his isolationist trade policies. But when it comes to sanctions against Russia, the two seem to be in agreement: neither want the US’s newly signed legislation designed to punish the country for meddling in its elections last year.
The US President, who inked the law under pressure, believes the measures could thwart his attempts to smooth things over with the Kremlin. For the Europeans, on the other hand, it’s all about energy. The Germans especially are furious that their access to Russian fossil fuels, especially relating to the Nord Stream 2 Russia-Europe gas pipeline, could be jeopardized as a result.
“By signing off on the new sanctions against Russia, the American president continues to pursue his policy of abolishing trade pacts, establishing new trade barriers and attacking free trade,” said Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz, Angela Merkel’s main rival in Germany’s elections this fall.
German business associations also insisted that Europe must ensure its economic interests are not endangered. “The Americans are imposing their laws onto third parties. This is a violation of international law,” said Ulrich Ackermann, the managing director of the foreign trade portfolio at the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA).