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EU preparing to hit back at US ‘within days’ over Russia bans: Report

The European Union is reportedly making preparations to hit back at the US “within days” if Washington’s possible new sanctions against Russia affect European businesses, including oil firms.

US Republicans and Democrats agreed Saturday on a deal allowing new sanctions against Russia, in a bill that would limit any potential effort by President Donald Trump to try to lift anti-Moscow bans.

The US House of Representatives are set to vote on the draft sanctions law, which also targets Iran and North Korea, on Tuesday.

Trump could veto the draft law if it reaches his desk; however, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday that the US president is set to sign the anti-Russia sanctions measure, and that his administration backs being tough on Russia and “particularly putting these sanctions in place.”

According to a report by the Financial Times, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has called for an urgent review of Brussels’ retaliation strategies should the bans being discussed in US Congress hit European businesses, including energy firms.

A note prepared for a Wednesday European Commission meeting said Brussles “should stand ready to act within days” if the US measures were “adopted without EU concerns being taken into account.”

The note, seen by the Financial Times, also said the European Union should primarily focus on seeking “a public or written reassurance” from the Trump administration that the application of the planned sanctions would not harm European interests.

Among the other retaliatory measures listed in the note is the use of European law to prevent the US measures from being “recognized or enforceable” in the continent.

“The measures could impact a potentially large number of European companies doing legitimate business under EU measures with Russian entities in the railways, financial, shipping or mining sectors, among others,” warns the note.

In a Saturday statement, the European warned the US that imposing fresh sanctions against Russia without coordination with G7 countries may have “unintended consequences.”

The US has a raft of sanctions in place against Russian individuals and companies over the crisis in Ukraine and the reunification of the Crimean Penisula with the Russian Federation.

The US and its European allies accuse Moscow of having a role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, and view Crimea’s reunion with Russia as “annexation” of the territory. The Kremlin has strongly denied the claims.

In December, the then US president, Barack Obama, broadened the sanctions over allegations of Russian meddling to change the presidential election result in favor of Trump continue to weigh in on his presidency. He expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in the US.

The fresh sanctions are an extension of the previous ones.

Analysts say if President Trump uses his veto power against the bill, he would fuel suspicions that he is too supportive of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

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