BERLIN Germany and Austria on Thursday censured the U.S. Senate for approving new sanctions on Russia, saying the new punitive measures expose European companies involved in energy projects there to fines for breaching U.S. law.
U.S. senators on Wednesday approved sanctions against Russia over its meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, including some on certain Russian energy projects. Their vote put into law sanctions previously imposed by presidential executive order.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said in a joint statement the sanctions would help secure U.S. energy jobs and threaten Russian gas deliveries to Europe.
"Political sanctions should not linked up to economic interest," Gabriel and Kern said.
"To threaten companies in Germany, Austria and other European firms with fines in the U.S. if they take part in or finance energy projects like Nord Stream 2 represents a new and negative dimension to U.S.-European relations," they added.
They said they support efforts by the U.S. State Department to amend the sanctions.
Western partners of Russian gas giant Gazprom agreed in April on financing the 9.5-billion euro ($10.59 billion) Nord Stream 2 pipeline, removing a key hurdle for the Russian plan to pump more gas to Europe.
(Reporting by Noah Barkin and Michael Nienaber; Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Michelle Martin)