German Chancellor Angela Merkel is worried that a US Senate proposal to impose sanctions on Russia over alleged meddling in the 2016 US election could have economic repercussions for the European Union's economy, her spokesman said on Friday.
The US Senate on Wednesday approved new sanctions against Russia, including some affecting certain Russian energy projects in which EU partners are also involved.
Seibert said it was "peculiar" that sanctions aimed at punishing Russia could also lead to penalties against European companies.
"This must not happen," he said. "We generally reject sanctions with extraterritorial effects, meaning an impact on third countries."
Merkel's concern at the US plans, which were not coordinated with EU allies, chimes in with that of German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern, who in a joint statement on Thursday also hit out at the proposed sanctions.
Gabriel and Kern's comments centered on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project to pump Russian natural gas via the Baltic Sea to Germany, which involves Russia's Gazprom along with European energy firms including Germany's Wintershall and Austria's ÖMV.
"Europe's energy supply is a matter for Europe, and not for the United States of America!" wrote Kern and Gabriel, who was previously the German economy minister.
They said that the draft US legislation had made it clear with "noticeable frankness" that the sanctions were aimed at "squeezing out Russian natural gas from the European market" in favor of American liquefied petroleum gas.
'Very negative dimension'
Threatening European firms also active in the US with sanctions if they participated in Nord Stream 2 injected "a completely new, and very negative dimension into European-American relations," the statement said.
The draft bill approved on Wednesday would penalize key sectors of Russia's economy, including mining, metals, shipping and railways. Individuals identified as hackers who carried out cyberattacks on behalf of the Russian government would also be targeted.
To become law, the bill must still be passed by the US House of Representatives and be signed by President Donald Trump.
tj/se (Reuters, dpa)