By Boluwatife Ezekiel Olaleye
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has warned the EU will take retaliatory measures “within days” if the newly-signed US sanctions against Russia target businesses in the European Union (EU).
Juncker on Wednesday expressed alarm over the “unpredictable” consequences of the new US sanctions law for the European Union, particularly in the field of energy security.
“If the US sanctions specifically disadvantage EU companies trading with Russia in the energy sector the EU is prepared to take appropriate steps in response within days,” the Commission chief said.
Juncker further noted that Brussels had to defend its economic interests which include European companies involved in oil and gas projects with Moscow.
“We are ready. We must defend our economic interests vis-à-vis the United States, and we will do that,” he said, also drawing attention to the fact that European interests should be always taken into account when it comes to the application of restrictive measures by Washington.
Earlier in the day, US President Donald Trump signed into law a bill which imposes tough additional sanctions on Russia over Moscow’s alleged meddling in last year’s US presidential election and Crimea’s reunification with Russia in 2014.
ALSO SEE: Trumps signs Russia sanctions law
The legislation targets the Russian energy sector, allowing the US to sanction companies involved in developing Russian oil pipelines and placing restrictions on some Russian arms exporters.
Reacting to the measures, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the fresh US sanctions imposed against Moscow were tantamount to a “full-scale trade war” and destroyed prospects for better relations with Washington.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also released a statement, saying Moscow will take counter-measures in response to the new US bans, which it described as short-sighted and a risk to global stability.
The US Congress passed the sanctions bill against Moscow last month, prompting Russian President Vladimir Putin to order some 755 US diplomats to leave the country by September 1.
The bill also slapped new sanctions on Iran and North Korea.