Merkel Won’t Rule Out Nord Stream Impact From Navalny Affair

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 31, 2015 German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a press conference in Berlin stating “We can do this!” on the controversial decision to open Germany’s doors to tens of thousands of migrants. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not rule out consequences for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project if Russia fails to thoroughly investigate the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, her spokesman said Monday.

Asked whether Merkel would protect the multi-billion-euro pipeline from Russia to Europe if Germany were to seek sanctions over the Navalny case, spokesman Steffen Seibert said: “The chancellor believes it would be wrong to rule anything out from the start.”

Nord Stream 2, a 10-billion-euro ($11-billion) pipeline near completion beneath the Baltic Sea, is set to double Russian natural-gas shipments to Germany, Europe’s largest economy.

It has long been in the crosshairs of the United States, which has criticised European countries for their reliance on energy from Russia.

US President Donald Trump has signed legislation that targets contractors working on the project, meaning that German companies face sanctions for even small investment.

Even within the European Union, there are voices against the pipeline.

Poland and other former Eastern Bloc states are wary of the EU becoming too reliant on Moscow, while non-EU member Ukraine fears that the new pipeline would cut it out of the gas supply business and allow Moscow to ratchet up pressure.

Germany, despite political differences with Russia, however sees Nord Stream 2 as ensuring a more stable and cleaner source of energy as it pivots away from coal and nuclear power.

As well as Russian giant Gazprom, which has a majority stake, the international consortium involved in the Nord Stream 2 project includes huge European players like Germany’s Wintershall and Uniper groups, the Dutch-British Shell, France’s Engie and Austria’s OMV.

AFP