On Thursday, Germany and Austria condemned in strong terms the US Senate passage of a bill that outlines new sets of sanctions against Russia. The provisions, if approved by the House could place heavy sanctions on European companies that conduct energy business with Russia.

As reported on Yahoo News, the amendment, which received overwhelming support by the Senate still needs to scale through the House, the new measure is intended to hit back at Russia. Under the new law, the White House is empowered to extend sanctions to any organization that invests in Russian energy projects. The move, if implemented, could affect Nord Stream 2 project, which is expected to supply natural gas directly from Russia to Germany without passing through Ukraine when completed.

Reactions by European leaders

Sigmar Gabriel German Foreign Affairs Minister and Christian Kern Austrian Chancellor Thursday, in a joint statement, said the sanctions could undermine the Russian gas delivery to Europe if implemented. They described the amendment as highly negative quality in the relationship between Europe and America.

The statement said Europe energy business and supply is a European issue and not the United States. The threat of unlawful external sanctions against European firms that are involved in the development of energy delivery in Europe cannot be accepted, they stated.

The controversial pipeline project

The Nord Stream is a controversial pipeline project. Central and Eastern Europe are totally opposed to the project, worried about an increase on their dependence on Russian energy.

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Germany and some other Western European nations support it, contending a new pipeline will yield more supplies and reduce energy costs in Europe. Officials of both the Obama and the Trump administration have objected to the pipeline project, arguing it could threaten European energy security.

Companies will be affected

If the bill scales through the House and is not vetoed by President Trump, it could affect energy companies like Wintershall, Shell, Engie, OMV, and Uniper. The firms are partnering with Russia’s Gazprom to construct a $10.6 billion pipeline project.

In the same vein, Kern and Gabriel claim the US was acting to protect the interest of local suppliers, of which recently have been exporting crude oil and natural, even to Europe.

The Nord Stream 2 conglomerate said the action by the US is intended at threatening the standing of commercial competitors in a market that is already diversified.