(Adds comments, warning about European energy)
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON, April 4 A senior European Union
official said on Tuesday he had seen no sign that U.S.
President Donald Trump's administration planned to lift
sanctions on Russia over its activities in Ukraine, and warned
that unilateral American sanctions on Russia could destabilize
some European energy markets.
"We have had no such indication," David O'Sullivan, the head
of the EU mission to the United States, told a Senate Foreign
Relations Committee hearing on how the United States and EU
could work together to push back against Russian aggression.
"I think there is still remarkable unity of purpose between
the United States and the European Union with regard to those
issues," O'Sullivan said.
Allegations by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian
actors were behind the hacking of senior Democratic Party
operatives and spreading disinformation during the 2016 U.S.
presidential election have lingered over Trump's tenure.
Democrats charge the Russians wanted to tilt the election
toward the Republican, who worried lawmakers from both parties
during his campaign by calling for warmer relations with Russia.
Trump has dismissed that claim, and Russia denies the
During the hearing, Corker questioned the wisdom of
legislation to impose more sanctions on Russia over its
aggressive actions in Ukraine and Syria. Senator Ben Cardin, the
foreign relations committee's top Democrat, drafted such a bill
earlier this year. It is sponsored by both Democrats and
Corker asked O'Sullivan whether it would be preferable for
the United States to act unilaterally or work with the European
Union on such sanctions.
O'Sullivan said "close coordination" would be preferable.
"We have moved in lockstep throughout this process and I
think that has not only ensured of the right political response,
but also the effectiveness of the sanctions," O'Sullivan said.
Some of the ideas that have been discussed could have a
serious impact on the European energy sector, he said.
"Many of our member states are heavily dependent upon
imports from Russia and it would be very important not to
destabilize that situation," O'Sullivan said.
Cardin said some sanctions Europe has imposed on Russia are
stronger those by the United States. "There may be some interest
for us to try to pattern some of our sanctions on what Europe
has already imposed on Russia," he said.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and