New US Sanctions Against Russia Create Problems from Croatia

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The sanctions could endanger a crucial energy project.

New and additional sanctions against Russia proposed by the US House of Representatives will further complicate relations between the United States and Russia if adopted by the Senate and signed by President Donald Trump. The consequences could also be felt by European Union member states, including Croatia, reports Jutarnji List on 27 July 2017.

Many of the ongoing or planned projects could be threatened by sanctions and some of them are linked to the Croatian efforts to secure distribution of gas from Azerbaijan. On the other hand, the American initiative on new sanctions backed strongly by both Republicans and Democrats, has, of course, led to negative reactions by the Russian authorities, with the threat that countermeasures would be taken towards all those who would implement the sanctions. It is estimated that the implementation of the sanctions may halt many European projects, including those for which Croatia is interested.

“As far as we are concerned, we will continue to follow everything which the European Union decides to do. There is no room for Croatia to do anything on its own, and we will not take any measures which are not approved by Brussels,” say Croatian diplomatic sources. The Croatian economy has so far suffered significant economic damage due to sanctions against Russia, and data from recent years show that export growth would be even faster with no sanctions.

Diplomats in Brussels say that this time the European Union will be a collateral victim of American sanctions and is trying to convince Trump’s administration to give up on the expansion of sanctions. Croatia is in a particular position because it has recently received lots of support from Washington for its energy agenda. This was demonstrated at the recent summit of the Three Seas Initiative in Warsaw, where President Trump praised Croatia’s energy independence efforts. In a meeting with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Trump vowed US support for Croatia’s energy plans.

EU economic experts warn that sanctions could endanger projects whose aim is to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies. This could bring into question the Southern Gas Corridor, which was supposed to supply Georgia, Turkey, Albania, Montenegro and Croatia with gas from Azerbaijan. Given that Lukoil from Russia participates in this project, the sanctions could stop the whole project.

“We hope there will be a solution not to make US-Russian relations even worse, which is also a goal of the EU’s leadership. Everyone is very concerned, and we believe there will be no need for more drastic steps to protect European interests,” say Croatian diplomats. Some in the EU are even discussing the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the United States if it is estimated that the European economy would suffer additional damage.

Translated from Jutarnji List.


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