April 6 (UPI) — Retaliation is not out of the question when considering economic pressures used by the United States and European countries, Russia’s energy minister said.
“Undoubtedly, if certain measures are taken against us, we will have the opportunity to react,” Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying. “If there are any actions, we will take some kind of retaliatory measures.”
Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said last month that any company that engages in work on the Nord Stream gas pipeline expansion, a Russian project, could run afoul of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which imposed sanctions last year on Iran, Russia, and North Korea.
Joining its European counterparts, the U.S. Treasury Department said the alleged use of a nerve-agent against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, was part of a long list of nefarious action from the Kremlin.
Novak said new sanctions wouldn’t impact the Russian energy sector.
“We do not see any actions regarding commercial projects and other interactions in the fuel and energy sector,” he said.
The European market is fed primarily by Russian and Norwegian supplies, respectively, and the Kremlin has used that position for leverage, notably on issues in Ukraine. European leaders, meanwhile, have expressed concerns about competition because Russian energy company Gazprom controls both the supply and transit infrastructure.
In terms of retaliatory action, the minister said that was not his preferred course. Novak said exports to Russian satellites and elsewhere would be on par with the historic average.
Novak’s counterpart in the United States, Rick Perry, testified last month that U.S. energy policies that envision Europe as a trade partner with “no strings attached is one of the most powerful messages that we can send to Russia.”
The National Defense Authorization Act said U.S. efforts should promote energy security in Europe, stating Russia uses energy “as a weapon to coerce, intimidate and influence” countries in the region.