On September 6th, the German Defense Minister and Foreign Minister both hinted that sanctions on Nord Stream 2 could be possible as a result of Alexei Navalny’s alleged Novichok poisoning.
Berlin is attempting to increase pressure on Russia, warning that a lack of support by Moscow in the investigation could “force” Germany to rethink the completion of Nord Stream 2.
“I hope the Russians won’t force us to change our position regarding the Nord Stream 2” pipeline being built under the Baltic Sea, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.
Maas also said that “if there won’t be any contributions from the Russian side regarding the investigation in the coming days, we will have to consult with our partners.”
He did not exclude possible sanctions against Russia, telling the newspaper that such measures should be “pinpointed effectively.”
Maas admitted that halting the building of the nearly completed gas pipeline would harm German and European companies.
“Whoever demands this has to be aware of the consequences,” he said. “More than 100 companies from 12 European countries are involved (in the construction), about half of them from Germany.”
“We have high expectations from the Russians to bring light into this severe crime,” Maas said. “If they have nothing to do with this attack then it’s in their own interest to put the facts on the table.”
Separately, German Defense Minister and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s protégé Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said she was ready to discuss sanctions against Russia on the Nord Stream-2 project over the poisoning of Alexei Navalny.
“I’ve always said that Nord Stream 2 is not my favorite project. “It has always been obvious to me that it is necessary to take into account the legitimate security interests of the countries of Central Europe and Ukraine,” said the Minister of Defense.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer stressed that Germany would take further steps depending on how Moscow acts.
“The proven use of chemical weapons raises very serious questions for the Russian leadership. The world is waiting for answers to them,” said the German Defense Minister.
Merkel herself, however, said that it was wrong to link Nord Stream 2 with Navalny.
The head of the parliamentary committee on foreign policy, Norbert Röttgen, called for a reconsideration of gas supplies from Russia to Germany and a refusal to complete the construction of Nord Stream 2.
France also suggested the possibility of sanctions if Moscow fails to quickly respond to European demands for answers about Navalny’s poisoning.
“It’s a serious situation. It’s serious firstly because it’s the poisoning of another opposition figure. And it’s serious because the substance that was used, Novichok, is banned,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
″The Russians must now tell us the truth so that we can act accordingly … When we say quickly, it’s quickly, that’s to say a week, now. It’s a traumatizing event for everyone, it’s astonishing for everyone. So the Russians must take the necessary action and I hope they will,” he said.
Moscow denies all of the allegations. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reiterated Moscow’s claim Sunday that Germany hadn’t provided any evidence since Russia requested it in late August.
“Dear Mr. Maas, if the government of the Federal Republic of Germany is sincere in its statements, then it should itself be interested in preparing a response to the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia as soon as possible,” Zakharova wrote in a Facebook posting.
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