European companies have mixed reviews on proposed new Russia sanctions

World Today

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a new Russia sanctions bill which could make it impossible for President Trump to veto. It now moves to the U.S. senate.

But as CGTN’s Guy Henderson reports, some European companies have mixed reviews about the proposed new sanctions.
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A German heavy machinery company saw a silver lining in the latest proposed U.S. sanctions against Russia. Like many other businesses there, exports took a hit from the ones already in place, believing some of its American competitors weren’t being squeezed as hard as they were. They’re hoping that changes.

“When Germany and Europe started sanctions in our product range, American companies stepped in and supplied to the Russians. For the last 2-3 years, we had a lot of American competition on our special market. So if the Americans are now joining the sanctions or increasing the sanctions, and there is still a big, big question mark here, it may actually benefit our company,” FAM CEO Lutz Peterman said.

Still, FAM is part of a German corporate chorus that, overall, would rather see sanctions eased, not unilaterally strengthened.

The U.S. Congress may see a new round of sanctions as a proportionate response to alleged Russian meddling in last year’s elections. German firms, particularly ones with historic ties from the Soviet era, are wondering if it’s really necessary for measures apparently designed to punish an American rival, to end up damaging one of its key European allies.

What particularly irks German politicians is new plans to penalize European companies involved in piping gas from Russia. In Brussels, they’re preparing to retaliate for what many see as an effort to force Europe to buy American fossil fuels instead. Though some doubt that would be enforced.

“It’s just re-iterating, re-enforcing powers that the president already has. The sense in Washington and in Berlin and in Brussels is that this president is disinclined to be tough on Russia. So it doesn’t seem likely that they would take any kind of actions that would affect European interests,” Aspen Institute’s Tyson Barker said.