Brussels: The European Union (EU) said it was ready if needed to retaliate within days against new US sanctions on Russia but believes Washington wants to spare European energy firms from any fallout.
US President Donald Trump reluctantly signed off on the new sanctions against Russia on Wednesday, bowing to domestic pressure and holding off on efforts to improve ties with Moscow.
"In the wake of Donald Trump signing off on stricter US sanctions against Russia, the Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker expressed his satisfaction, in principle, over the softening of the bill after the EU had expressed its concerns," said the commission.
"Moreover, US Congress has now also committed that sanctions will only be applied after the country's allies are consulted. And I do believe we are still allies of the US," Juncker was quoted as saying in the statement.
However, he warned Brussels was ready to retaliate if the sanctions in the end hurt EU energy firms.
"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 said.
To date, the sanctions have been coordinated on both sides of the Atlantic to maintain a united front.
The EU and US imposed the sanctions in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea in March 2014 as the Ukraine crisis deepened after the ouster of a pro-Moscow government.
In addition to the Crimea measures, the EU imposed damaging economic sanctions against Russia after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine in July 2014, blamed by the EU on pro-Russian rebels.
Published Date: Aug 03, 2017 01:54 pm | Updated Date: Aug 03, 2017 01:54 pm