German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing increasing pressure to complete the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline after German doctors confirmed this week that Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was poisoned by Novichok, the same military-class nerve agent used in the attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripalja.
The Green Party, which is currently second in polls after Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has called on the chancellor to stop the construction of a nearly completed oil pipeline from Russia to Germany as a way to punish Moscow.
- This open assassination attempt by the Kremlin’s mafia structure should not only worry us, but it must also have real consequences – said Catherine Goring-Eckardt, the Greens’ representative in the Bundestag. The call was repeated even by some members of the CDU.
- The only language that Vladimir Putin understands is sharp language. We have to answer in that language – said Norbert Rottgen, a member of the Conservative Party and head of the parliamentary committee for foreign affairs, who has long been an open opponent of the joint project of Germany and the Russian oil giant Gazprom.
Navalny was flown to a Berlin hospital last month after suddenly falling ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow. He is currently in an artificial coma and in a stable but critical condition. The German government announced on Wednesday that Putin’s enemy had been poisoned by a newcomer, a potentially deadly nerve agent developed in Soviet laboratories.
After this confirmation from German doctors, the president of the German Social Democrats (SPD), Norbert Walter-Borjans, said: “”Competition for the idea of which sanctions to impose on Russia””.
The Nord Stream 2 project was immediately imposed there, which should deliver natural gas to the EU market from one port near St. Petersburg, across the Baltic, to a port in the extreme northeast of Germany, as early as next year. Behind the project is mostly the Russian state company “Gazprom”
- If we complete the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project now, it will not only be the maximum confirmation and support for Vladimir Putin to continue with this policy but also a reward for him – said Rottgen, who is also one of the candidates for Merkel’s successor.
The president of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), Christian Lindner, assessed that the Nord Stream 2 project is “unsustainable”.
- The regime that organizes poisoning killings should not be a partner for large projects, and that also applies to gas pipeline projects – he said.
The situation is by no means simple for Merkel. She persistently defended the project until last week, so last Friday, when Navalny was already transferred to the Berlin hospital, she repeated that it must be completed. Some say this is because the place where the pipeline enters Germany is in its constituency and that is in the part of the country where any job is welcome.
Merkel has had a firm stance towards Russia for a long time and is trying to maintain the European Union’s unified position on sanctions against Moscow due to its annexation of Crimea in 2014. At the same time, Germany is extremely aware of the need to maintain a constructive dialogue with Russia on urgent international issues such as the wars in Ukraine and Syria and the spiral in Libya.
Nord Stream 2 has long been the subject of controversy on both sides of the Atlantic. So far, the Chancellor has successfully defended the project from attacks by the White House, because since Donald Trump came to power, Washington has been putting enormous pressure on all parties involved in the construction of the gas pipeline with the goal of sabotaging the project. That would, in the end, mean more American gas for the EU market.
Until now, the German chancellor has not been alone in defending this project from the very beginning, reminds “Deutsche Welle”. The smaller coalition partner in the government, the Social Democrats, has been behind the project from the very beginning. One of the most important people in that Russian-German cooperation is Gerhard Schroeder, a former Social Democratic chancellor and a great friend of Vladimir Putin, who was appointed head of the supervisory board in 2016.
The New York Times presents an interesting option that would allow Merkel to remove the pressure from Washington, she could stop the construction of Nord Stream 2 and blame Moscow for all that. more reasons.
One is obviously economic, due to the EU’s dependence on Russian gas, while the other is political in nature. Despite all the current crises, of which it is only the last in a row in Belarus, Berlin and Brussels care that they have someone in Moscow with whom they can talk. The New York Times also recalls many other political assassinations allegedly orchestrated by the Kremlin and sparked by media noise – but ultimately had no effect on Moscow-Berlin relations.