Europe keeps its distance from growing US-Russia diplomatic spat

The US administration has until 1 September to pull back its diplomatic stuff, according to Kremlin. [Richard/Flickr]

The European Union considers the ongoing diplomatic dispute between Moscow and Washington a “bilateral issue” and is keeping its distance, a European Commission Spokesperson told EURACTIV.com.

The US Congress recently voted to expand sanctions against Moscow for New US sanctions for Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, an allegation that Russia denies, as well as the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Trump signs Russia sanctions bill into law

US President Donald Trump has signed into law new sanctions against Russia that were passed overwhelmingly by Congress last week and that run counter to his desire to improve relations with Moscow.

In response to the sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would expel 755 American diplomats from his country’s territory.

According to Moscow, the number of the US diplomatic staff in Russia should be equalised with the Russian diplomats in the US which is now 455.

The US administration has until 1 September to pull back its diplomatic staff, according to the Kremlin.

Asked by EURACTIV how this fresh diplomatic spat could affect the EU, a European Commission spokesperson declined to comment, insisting that it is a “bilateral issue”.

EU sounds alarm, urges US to coordinate on Russia sanctions

The European Union sounded the alarm on Saturday (22 July) about moves in the US Congress to step up sanctions on Russia, urging Washington to keep coordinating with its G7 partners and warning of unintended consequences.

US reaction not decided yet

Speaking at the ASEAN Regional Forum in the Philippines on Monday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that “meddling in the elections is certainly a serious incident”.

Tillerson added that the US had not made a decision regarding how to respond to Russia’s request to remove US diplomatic personnel but there will be “a response to the matter by 1 September”.

“We have our differences, we’re going to have to continue to find a way to address those,” he emphasised.

Eight European projects to be hit by US sanctions on energy sector

Eight projects involving European companies could be affected by US sanctions if Congress passes a bill on Tuesday (25 July) to hit firms working with Russia in the energy sector.

Further Reading