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Brexit Web Tangled by Spats Over How to Leave, Irish Border

Britain’s progress toward life outside the European Union became more entangled Friday, with divisions deepening over Northern Ireland’s border and even the type of divorce Britain actually wants.

The uncertainty coincided with the EU’s top negotiator warning that formal talks are set to be delayed, eating up more of the two-year divorce timetable.

Negotiations on the future relationship between Britain and the EU are now less likely to start in October because of a lack of progress at the initial stage of talks about the breakup, Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has told EU ambassadors.

Britain responded that it was confident that enough progress could be made to start the second stage of talks, but as Prime Minister Theresa May vacationed in Italy, her ministers engaged in a public debate about how Brexit should look.

Finance Minister Philip Hammond, who opposed leaving the EU in last year’s referendum and has one eye on the business community, said there should be no immediate change to immigration or trading rules when Britain leaves.

Five years away

A shift to new arrangements could last until mid-2022, he said, adding he wanted to avoid a cliff-edge. He stressed that British hospitals and care homes relied as much on EU migrant workers as many businesses.

“We’ve been clear that it will be some time before we are able to introduce full migration controls between the U.K. and the European Union,” he told BBC radio.

May’s loss of her majority in the British Parliament with a botched gamble on a snap election has prompted an apparent softening of rhetoric on Brexit. But some EU member state diplomats say it’s now hard to discern what Britain wants.

Britain has less than two years to negotiate the terms of the divorce and the outlines of the future relationship before it is due to leave in late March 2019. Both sides need an agreement to keep trade flowing between the world’s biggest trading bloc and the fifth-largest global economy.

“In the immediate aftermath of leaving the European Union goods will continue to flow across the border between the U.K. and EU in much the same way as they do now,” Hammond said.

Britain’s economy weathered the immediate shock of last year’s vote to leave the EU much better than the government and most analysts had predicted.

But growth in the first half of this year has been the weakest since 2012, and earlier on Friday a closely watched consumer survey showed sentiment was its weakest in a year.

Households viewed the economy as the worst in four years.

Brexit transition

May expects what she calls an implementation phase, but she has given few details of how it would look. Any such deal will also be subject to discussion with the other 27 EU members.

Hammond’s tone, meanwhile, is sharply different from that of some other senior ministers in May’s cabinet who want a cleaner break with the EU, including swift controls on immigration.

“A transitional deal will delay all the benefits of being able to control our laws, trade and borders. We need to get on with it,” said Richard Tice, a Brexiteer who helped fund one of the Leave campaigns in the EU referendum.

The anti-EU United Kingdom Independence Party said Hammond’s words indicated uncontrolled EU immigration would continue for years after the 2019 leave date.

Late on Friday, the Daily Telegraph reported that Hammond and Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, who favors taking a tough stance with the EU on Brexit, had issued a joint statement saying they were “working together to take the U.K. out of the EU.”

It made no mention of transitional arrangements, the newspaper said.

Government representatives were unable to immediately confirm the joint statement.

It was unclear whether Hammond’s proposals would become government policy, though the implications could be far-reaching.

The proposals could be read to mean that Britain would continue to pay into EU coffers during the transition, continue to accept EU laws and even effectively accept its four freedoms, allowing free movement of people, capital, goods and services.

“I am not sure if they fully know what they want themselves,” one EU official who spoke on condition of anonymity said.

The European Commission said that discussions about a potential Brexit transition period could begin only once divorce issues were settled.

Three points

Before talks on a transition can begin, the EU wants to settle three main points: the future rights of expatriate citizens, the exit bill Britain has to pay and how to avoid the reimposition of border controls between the Republic of Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.

Neither side has proposed a solution to the Northern Ireland issue, which remains sensitive almost two decades after a peace deal ended years of violence in the province.

Ireland is against the imposition of an “economic border” with Northern Ireland, and the Irish government is not going to help Britain design one, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.

He was speaking after Northern Irish Protestant politicians propping up May’s minority government reacted with fury to a report that Dublin wants customs checks on boats and planes between Britain and Ireland rather than along its land border with Northern Ireland.

Ireland’s foreign minister said no such proposal existed. “As far as this government is concerned there shouldn’t be an economic border. We don’t want one,” Varadkar told reporters at a briefing in Dublin.

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Pence to Visit Estonia, Georgia, Montenegro on NATO, Russia

Vice President Mike Pence visits three countries in Russia’s neighborhood beginning Monday to signal support for them and NATO while drawing a line against aggression.


Pence’s trip to Estonia, Georgia and Montenegro is viewed as a follow-up to President Donald Trump’s visit to Europe earlier this month. Then, Trump used stops in Poland and Germany to try to pull off a tricky balancing act of improving ties with Moscow while also presenting the U.S. as a check against Russia’s moves in the region.


Pence’s mission will be encouraging those countries to continue to ally with the West and resist Russia’s attempts to splinter the NATO alliance.


Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have previously been dispatched to try to allay the concerns of countries near Russia that the U.S. really will stand behind NATO and support the sovereignty of non-member former Soviet republics.


The concerns stem from Trump’s suggestion during the campaign that the U.S. might not defend NATO allies and his apparent desire for closer relations with Russia. Trump received criticism on his first European trip for passing up the chance to affirm the NATO mutual defense commitment clause known as Article 5, which frames an attack on one as an attack on all. Trump did affirm U.S. support for Article 5 on his second trip to Europe.


The vice president is expected to deliver a message of support for U.S. trade and investment with the countries while underscoring the U.S. commitment to the security of the three nations, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters about the trip on the condition that they not be identified by name. Pence also will stress the values of freedom of speech, democracy and religious tolerance.


In Estonia, Pence is expected to highlight bilateral ties with the U.S., particularly on trade, investment and cyber issues. Pence also is expected to thank Estonian officials for their approach to “burden-sharing,” diplomatic speak for agreeing to spend a full share of 2 percent of their GDP on defense, the administration officials said.


The vice president also is expected to underscore the U.S. commitment to NATO, which sees Russia as a security threat and offers protection to concerned member states near Russia’s borders.


In Georgia, Pence is expected to highlight U.S. support for its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the officials said. Georgia is the only country on the trip that is not a NATO member and, like Ukraine, has seen Russian encroachment on its territory. The administration officials said the U.S. is encouraging Georgia to continue to make reforms to its judiciary and expand anti-corruption efforts.


In Montenegro, Pence will celebrate that nation as the newest NATO ally.


On Wednesday, he’ll attend the Adriatic Charter Summit in Podgorica, Montenegro, to highlight the U.S. commitment to the Western Balkans and underscore the importance of good governance, political reforms and rule of law. Also expected to attend are the leaders of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia.

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Russia Orders US to Reduce Diplomatic Staff

Russia’s foreign ministry said Friday it is imposing counter measures on the U.S. in response to new sanctions voted by Congress Thursday. The ministry said the sanctions confirm the “extreme aggression of U.S. in international affairs.”

“We propose to the U.S. side,” the ministry said, “to bring the number of diplomatic and technical staff working in the U.S. embassy in Moscow and the consulates general . . . in exact accordance with the number of Russian diplomats and technical staff in the U.S.” Russia said the reduction in force would bring the number of U.S. diplomats and staff to 455.

U.S. lawmakers approved a bill Thursday imposing new sanctions on not only Russia, but also Iran and North Korea.

Senators overwhelmingly approved the bill with a vote of 98-2, a day after the House and Senate agreed on the terms.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker announced the deal in a statement late Wednesday, saying it came after discussions with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

The House had already passed the bill with a vote of 419-3.

Corker had earlier objected to including the North Korean sanctions, initially favoring to address that issue in a separate bill. But he dropped those objections and said the House of Representatives would work on enhancing the North Korea language. Lawmakers pushed for more Russia sanctions in response to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denies the charges and objects to the passage of new sanctions against his country.

The bill is designed to affect a wide range of Russian industries, hitting the country squarely in the pocketbook.

Presidential objections

Trump objects to the sanctions, but the bill has enough support in both houses to override a presidential veto. He particularly objects to a passage barring presidential interference aimed at easing the sanctions. The White House has been lobbying for weeks for a bill with a lighter impact.

The European Union has also expressed concern about the new sanctions, saying they could have an impact on the European energy sector.

During weeks of negotiations, the Trump administration pushed back at what it saw as an attempt to limit the executive branch’s ability to unilaterally ease sanctions, making the case that it limits U.S. leverage in attempts to impact Russian behavior and build a better relationship with Putin. The White House has now expressed support.

“The president very much supports sanctions on those countries and wants to make sure that those remain. But at the same time, (he) wants to make sure that we get good deals. Those two things are both very important for the president,” White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Monday.

According to state-run Russian media, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned Wednesday the new sanctions will scuttle any chance of improved relations between Moscow and Washington. He also stated that Russia had previously warned the Trump administration it would mount a response if U.S. lawmakers passed the bill.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are already praising the group effort to pass the bill quickly. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said in a statement: “I am pleased the Senate has acted overwhelmingly to give the administration much-needed economic and political leverage to address threats from Iran, Russia, and North Korea. This bipartisan bill is about keeping America safe, and I urge the president to sign it into law.”

Senator Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Senate Banking Committee said, “This bill passed with overwhelming majorities in both the Senate and the House, sending a strong message to Vladimir Putin that attacks on our democracy will not be tolerated. President Trump should sign this bill as soon as it hits his desk. Otherwise, he risks encouraging Russia’s interference in future elections.”

Capitol Hill correspondents Michael Bowman and Katherine Gypson contributed to this report.

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Spain Commuter Train Crash Injures 48

A commuter train crashed into a railway buffer in Barcelona’s Francia station, injuring 48 people, five of those seriously, emergency services said on Friday. There were no deaths reported.

At least 18 of the injured need hospital attention, emergency services said. The driver was among the injured, they said.

The train was coming from Sant Vicenc de Calders village in the province of Tarragona on the R2 line of the Rodalies commuter rail service, emergency services said.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known. 

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Hitler Exhibition in Berlin Bunker Asks: How Could It Happen?

More than 70 years after Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker in the final days of World War II, an exhibition in the capital examines how he became a Nazi and what turned ordinary Germans into murderers during the Third Reich.

For decades it was taboo in Germany to focus on Hitler, although that has begun to change with films such as 2004’s Downfall, chronicling the dictator’s last days, and an exhibition about him in 2010.

Hitler — How Could It Happen? is set in a bunker in Berlin that was used by civilians during World War II bombing raids — close to the bunker where Hitler lived while Berlin was being bombed, which is not accessible to the public.

The exhibition examines Hitler’s life from his childhood in Austria and time as a painter to his experience as a soldier during World War I and his subsequent rise to power. Other exhibits focus on concentration camps, pogroms and the Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews.

It ends with a controversial reconstruction of the bunker room where Hitler killed himself on April 30, 1945, complete with grandfather clock, floral sofa and an oxygen tank. The exhibit is behind glass and is monitored by camera, with visitors forbidden to take photographs.

‘Where the crimes ended’

Exhibition curator Wieland Giebel, 67, said the reconstruction had been likened to “Hitler Disney,” but he defended the exhibition, saying it focused on the crimes carried out by Hitler’s regime.

“This room is where the crimes ended, where everything ended,” he said, “so that’s why we’re showing it.”

He said he had been asking how World War II and the Holocaust came about ever since playing in the rubble of postwar Germany as a child. The exhibition, he said, attempts to answer that question.

“After World War I a lot of Germans felt humiliated due to the Versailles Treaty,” Giebel said, referring to the accord signed in 1919 that forced defeated Germany to make massive reparation payments.

“At the same time there was anti-Semitism in Europe and not just in Germany … and Hitler built on this anti-Semitism and what people called the ‘shameful peace of Versailles’ and used those two issues to mobilize people,” he said.

Giebel, who has a personal interest in the topic because one of his grandfathers was part of a firing squad while the other hid a Jew, said he also wanted the exhibition to show how quickly a democracy could be abolished and make clear that undemocratic movements needed to be nipped in the bud.

He said the exhibition showed some Germans became Nazis as they stood to gain personally when the property of Jews was expropriated, while others were attracted to the Nazis because they were unhappy about the Versailles Treaty and “followed Hitler because he promised to make Germany great again.”

The exhibition, which features photographs, Hitler’s drawings, films portraying his marriage to longtime companion Eva Braun, and a model of Hitler’s bunker, has attracted around 20,000 visitors since opening two months ago.

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White House Hints Trump Could Veto Russia Sanctions

The White House Thursday broached the possibility that President Donald Trump could veto new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, prompting sharp criticism from U.S. lawmakers of both political parties.

“He may sign the sanctions exactly the way they are, or he may veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians,” White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci told CNN.

Even the hint of a veto brought swift reaction from Capitol Hill.

“I think that would be a very bad mistake,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, told VOA. “What would be better is if they [White House officials] worked with us on the legislation.”

“This [sanctions bill] gives the president a stronger hand in dealing with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” said the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ben Cardin of Maryland. “If he vetoes it, it means he doesn’t want a stronger hand in dealing with Mr. Putin.”

“It’s hard to understand what comes out of the White House,” Cardin added.

“Congress has the power to override [a veto], and he would be overridden,” said New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez.


Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer derided as “laughable” Scaramucci’s assertion that Trump could negotiate even tougher sanctions against Russia.

“I’m a New Yorker too,” Schumer said, adding, “And I know bull when I hear it.”

The House of Representatives approved the sanctions bill Tuesday by a vote of 419-3. A similarly lopsided vote is expected in the Senate.

The bill seeks to impose an economic cost on Moscow, Tehran, and Pyongyang for an array of activities to which Washington objects, and gives Congress the power to block any presidential move to suspend the punitive measures.

During weeks of negotiations, the Trump administration initially pushed back at what it saw as an attempt to limit the executive branch’s ability to unilaterally ease sanctions, making the case that it limits U.S. leverage in attempts to impact Russian behavior and build a better relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

That concern seemed to have been resolved at the start of the week, when the White House voiced backing for the legislation

“The president very much supports sanctions on those countries and wants to make sure that those remain, but at the same time wants to make sure that we get good deals. Those two things are both very important for the president,” White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday that Moscow would likely retaliate against the United States if the sanctions are imposed.

According to state-run Russian media, Ryabkov warned that the new sanctions will scuttle any chance of improved relations between Moscow and Washington. He also said that Russia had previously warned the Trump administration it would mount a response if U.S. lawmakers passed the bill.

VOA’s Katherine Gypson contributed to this report.

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George Clooney, Guillermo del Toro on Venice Film Fest Slate

This year’s Venice Film Festival will include a crime comedy by George Clooney, a Guillermo del Toro fantasy and a Darren Aronofsky thriller.

Organizers of the world’s oldest film festival announced a 21-film competition lineup Thursday that features the Clooney-directed “Suburbicon,” the story of a home invasion gone wrong that stars Matt Damon and Julianne Moore, with a script by Joel and Ethan Coen.


Venice’s late-summer time slot — starting a few days ahead of the Toronto festival — has made it a major awards-season springboard. In recent years it has presented the world premieres of major Oscar winners including “Spotlight” and “La La Land.”


This year’s contenders for Venice’s top Golden Lion award include del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” starring Sally Hawkins as a woman who forges a relationship with a sea creature, and Aronofsky’s secrecy-shrouded “Mother!” starring Jennifer Lawrence.


The 74th Venice festival opens Aug. 30 in the canal-crossed Italian city with Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing,” about a man — Damon again — who decides to shrink himself. It closes Sept. 9 with Takeshi Kitano’s gangster thriller “Outrage Coda.”


The winner of the Golden Lion and other prizes will be decided by a jury led this year by actress Annette Bening.


Films in competition include “Human Flow,” a documentary about migration by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei; “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” by Ireland’s auteur of tragicomedy, Martin McDonagh; “The Third Murder,” by Japan’s Hirokazu Koreeda; and “Mektour, My Love: Canto Uno” by French-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche, director of the Cannes winner “Blue is the Warmest Color.”


Competing directors are drawn from around the globe, with films from Australia’s Warwick Thornton (“Sweet Country”), Israel’s Samuel Maoz (“Foxtrot”), and Lebanon’s Ziad Doueiri (“The Insult”). But only one director among the 21 is a woman — China’s Vivian Qu, whose “Angels Wear White” centers on two girls assaulted by a man in a small seaside town.


Outside the main competition, high-interest entries include Fernando Leon de Aranoa’s “Loving Pablo,” starring Javier Bardem as Colombian drug baron Pablo Escobar, and Stephen Frears’ reality-based historical drama “Victoria & Abdul,” with Judi Dench as Britain’s Queen Victoria and Ai Fazal as her Indian servant Abdul Karim.


The streaming service Netflix, which has shaken up the business of making and distributing movies, will debut the miniseries “Our Souls at Night,” a late-life romance starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.


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Acropolis, Other Greek Sites to Open as Guards Scrap Strike

The Acropolis and other ancient monuments and museums in Athens will be open this weekend after Greek Culture Ministry employees called off a planned two-day strike.

The ministry workers’ union says it took its decision following a meeting late Wednesday with Greece’s culture minister — who, it said, took a “responsible” approach to employees’ demands.


The weekend strike, at the heart of the summer season, would have been a considerable embarrassment for Greece’s key tourism industry.


The union wants the government to honor a pledge to hire 233 archaeologists and guards, replacing employees who have retired in recent years.


Under the terms of Greece’s international bailouts, only a fraction of the civil servants who retire can be replaced by new hires.



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Turkey Hoping for Easing of Russian Sanctions With Missile Deal

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara has agreed to purchase Russia’s S-400 missile systems, despite NATO concerns.

The controversial purchase comes as Ankara tries to court Moscow, after a Turkish jet downed a Russian bomber operating from Syria in 2015.

“We have now taken steps with Russia about this issue [buying S-400 systems]. Deals have been inked,” Erdogan announced Tuesday to his parliamentary deputies. “In God’s will, we will see S-400 missiles in our country and precede the process with joint production.”

The Turkish president did not miss an opportunity to dismiss concerns of his NATO partners. “Why will it cause tension? A country should be in search for the ideal ways for its own security,” he said.

Turkey’s allegiances questioned

Ankara is at loggerheads with its Western allies over their support for Syrian Kurdish groups fighting Islamic State militants, the former considered to be terrorists by Turkey, along with growing criticism over human rights.

Ankara’s NATO partners have voiced concern about the compatibility of the Russian system with its technology, along with fears that Moscow could use the S-400 as a Trojan horse to compromise NATO systems. The controversy will only add to growing questions over Ankara’s allegiances.

“NATO and EU member Greece purchased the S-300 [an earlier version of the Russian missile system] a couple of years ago,” said Zaur Gasimov, an Istanbul-based research fellow at the Max Weber Foundation working in the field of Russian-Turkish relations.  “However, it is an expensive measure of the Turkish side to demonstrate its sovereignty. It is a signal to the U.S., EU and Germany … by buying the S-400, Ankara demonstrates it’s willing to get closer to Moscow.”

The Pentagon weighed in, telling VOA that the United States has “an open dialog” with Turkey on the issue. Spokesman Johnny Michael told VOA on Wednesday: “We have concerns about the purchasing of the S-400 systems, which we have relayed to the government of Turkey.”

Michael said the United States emphasizes the importance of remaining compatible with the NATO system on any major defense system procurements. But he noted that “the United States and Turkey have a robust and significant defense trade and military sales relationship” and said the U.S. “is committed to expediting the delivery of equipment purchased by Turkey, when possible.”

Ankara insists the missile system, which is acknowledged as being one of most effective on the market, offers the best value for its money. The deal, worth $2.4 billion, is bolstered by Russia’s commitment to transfer technology, which also is a Turkish government priority.

Sanctions factor

There may be more than defense considerations, though, behind the missile purchase.  Ankara is trying to persuade Moscow to end all of the economic sanctions imposed after the Turkish jet downed the Russian bomber.

Some of those sanctions have been scaled back following a succession of meetings between Erdogan and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.  Russia has lifted an embargo pertaining to the import of some Turkish goods and has ended a ban on Russian tourists visiting Turkey, which had devastated Turkey’s lucrative tourism industry.

But Moscow is extracting a heavy price from Ankara.

“All the rest of the concessions are actually demands, which are advantageous to the Russian side. These are the sale of the S-400 air defense systems to Turkey [and] the completion of Akkuyu, the nuclear plant by Rosatom [a Russian company],” pointed out former senior Turkish diplomat Aydin Selcen, who is now an analyst. “Export of [Turkish] tomatoes is not solved yet. The issue of visas for Turkish citizens is not solved yet.”

Russia was once Turkey’s biggest export market for tomatoes, with the trade valued at $250 million annually.

During Erdogan’s March meeting with Putin, the Turkish president reportedly lobbied hard for an end to the tomato ban, to no avail.  But a breakthrough may be in the offing.  On the same day Erdogan announced the decision to buy the S-400, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich announced negotiations on the tomato ban would resume August 18.

But Moscow’s reluctance to make speedy concessions offers an insight into the wider nature of bilateral relations.

With multiple outstanding differences between Moscow and Ankara — in particular over Syria, with the two nations backing rival sides in the civil war — and Russia’s support for Syrian Kurdish rebels that Ankara calls terrorists, the possibility of a re-emergence of tensions remains.

VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb contributed to this story.

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EU Warns US It May Counter New Sanctions on Russia

The European Union warned on Wednesday that it was ready to act within days to counter proposed new U.S. sanctions on Russia, saying they would harm the bloc’s energy security.

Sanctions legislation overwhelmingly approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday has angered EU officials: they see it as breaking transatlantic unity in the West’s response to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Brussels also fears the new sanctions will harm European firms with connections to Russia, and oil and gas projects on which the EU is dependent.

“The U.S. bill could have unintended unilateral effects that impact the EU’s energy security interests,” EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement issued after a meeting at which European commissioners were united in their views, according to a senior EU official.

“If our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days. ‘America First’ cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last,” he said, mentioning President Donald Trump’s guiding slogan.

A EU document prepared for the commissioners, seen by Reuters, laid out the EU’s plans to seek “demonstrable reassurances” that the White House would not use the bill to target EU interests.

The bloc, it says, will also prepare to use an EU regulation allowing it to defend companies against the application of extraterritorial measures by the United States.

If diplomacy fails, Brussels plans to file a complaint at the World Trade Organization. “In addition, the preparation of a substantive response that would deter the U.S. from taking measures against EU companies could be considered,” it says.

However, most measures taken by Brussels would require approval from all 28 EU member governments, which could expose potential differences in individual nations’ relations with Moscow and Washington.

Despite changes to the U.S. bill that took into account some EU concerns, Brussels said the legislation could still hinder upkeep of the gas pipeline network in Russia that feeds into Ukraine and supplies over a quarter of EU needs. The EU says it could also hamper projects crucial to its energy diversification goals, such as the Baltic Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project.

The new sanctions target the disputed Nord Stream 2 project for a new pipeline running from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. But the EU note says: “the impact would in reality be much wider.”

A list prepared by the EU executive, seen by Reuters, shows eight projects including those involving oil majors Anglo-Dutch Shell, BP and Italy’s Eni that risk falling foul of the U.S. measures.

Voicing frustration at the fraying in the joint Western approach to Moscow, Juncker said “close coordination among allies” was key to ensuring that curbs on business with the Russian energy, defense and financial sectors, imposed in July 2014, are effective.

EU sources said Juncker told Commissioners the risk to EU interests was collateral damage of a U.S. domestic fight between Trump and U.S. lawmakers.

It was unclear how quickly the U.S. bill would reach the White House for Trump to sign into law or veto. The bill amounts to a rebuke of Trump by requiring him to obtain lawmakers’ permission before easing any sanctions on Moscow.

Rejecting the legislation — which would potentially stymie his wish for improved relations with Moscow — would carry a risk that his veto could be overridden by lawmakers.

Industry concerns

European energy industry sources voiced alarm at the potentially wide-ranging damage of the new U.S. measures.

“This is pretty tough,” one industry source told Reuters.

“We are working with EU officials to see what safeguards can be anticipated to protect our investment and give us certainty.”

Five Western firms are partnered with Russia’s Gazprom in Nord Stream 2: German’s Wintershall and Uniper, Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, Austria’s OMV and France’s Engie.

But EU officials warn the U.S. measures would also hit plans for the LNG plant on the Gulf of Finland in which Shell is partnering with Gazprom.

The EU document shows they might jeopardize Eni’s 50 percent stake in the Blue Stream pipeline from Russia to Turkey as well as the CPC pipeline, carrying Kazakh oil to the Black Sea, involving European groups BG Overseas Holdings, Shell and Eni.

It further warns that BP would be forced to halt some activities with Russian energy major Rosneft.