German officials are increasing pressure on the Kremlin to cooperate in the investigation into the suspected poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, with one lawmaker noting this weekend that Berlin could rethink its joint massive gas pipeline project with Moscow.
On Sunday, Germany’s foreign minister warned Russia that if it does not contribute to an investigation then it could “force” it to rethink Nord Stream 2, its joint gas pipeline project with Russia.
“I hope the Russians won’t force us to change our position regarding the Nord Stream 2” pipeline, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
“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,” Maas added.
Maas acknowledged the possibility of sanctions on Russia for the poisoning, but told the newspaper Sunday that such measures should be “pinpointed effectively.” He also conceded that stopping the building of Nord Stream 2, which is almost completed anyway, would hurt not only Russia but German and European firms.
Germany appeared to distance itself further from the possibility of sanctions Monday, with a government spokesman stating that it is “too early” to make a decision on Russia sanctions, Reuters reported. The spokesman added that the Nord Stream 2 project is “not a German project” and that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was “in line” with her foreign minister and his comments on the pipeline.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline goes under the Baltic Sea and will send gas to Germany and the rest of Europe, bypassing Ukraine. It has already come under pressure from the U.S., which sees it as a threat to Europe’s energy security, and a competitor to its own liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to Europe.