The European Parliament has “no authority” to make decisions on disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT international payment system or shutting down the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which is nearing completion, stressed German Bundestag politician Waldemar Herdt in an interview for Russian news network 360.
The Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party member noted that the European Parliament itself is an ‘artificially’ created instrument that wields its position to ostensibly demonstrate its importance.
Waldemar Herdt warned that should Berlin back out of the Nord Stream 2 energy project, Germany would be facing penalties of around 12 billion euros and an urgent need to seek ways of covering its energy deficit. All this could seriously affect the economic situation in the country.
Disabling SWIFT and banning Nord Stream 2 wouldn't benefit anyone except a "third party", hoping to "wreak havoc, devastation and hunger", the German MP stressed.
New Spiral in Anti-Russia Sanctions
The remarks come as over 50 European Parliament lawmakers tabled a resolution on 28 April proposing disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT payment system and bringing to a halt the $10.5 billion Nord Stream 2 energy project over Moscow's alleged "aggression and continued destabilisation of Ukraine, hostile behaviour towards and outright attacks on EU member states and societies".
The draft resolution "on Russia, the case of Alexei Navalny, the military build-up on Ukraine's border and Russian attacks in the Czech Republic," tabled by a group of mostly Eastern European lawmakers, suggested that if ongoing tensions over Ukraine spiralled into an outright “Russian invasion”, imports of "oil and gas from Russia to the EU [must] be immediately stopped…all assets in the EU of oligarchs close to the Russian authorities and their families in the EU need to be frozen and their visas cancelled".
Tensions in war-torn eastern Ukraine between Kiev and the breakaway Donbass republics spiralled this spring after the Ukrainian government mobilised its troops and prompted fears of a general offensive.
Moscow, which serves as a guarantor of the Minsk peace agreements, has urged calm and warned Kiev against any escalations.
In relation to Alexei Navalny, the Wednesday resolution, adopted with 581 MEP votes in favour, 50 against and 44 abstentions, calls on EU member states to adopt an active stance on the arrest of opposition vlogger Alexei Navalny, referred to as "Russia's best known anti-corruption activist”.
The proposal demanded his immediate release, and calls for an investigation into the alleged "poisoning" and "assassination attempt" against him.
Navalny was placed behind bars after returning to Russia in January over breaches of probation to his suspended sentence in a 2014 fraud case.
Nord Stream 2
MEPs underscored the importance of critically reviewing cooperation with Russia in diverse foreign policy projects such as Nord Stream 2.
They strongly urged the EU to immediately halt the completion of the pipeline, which aims to carry Russian natural gas to Germany across the Baltic Sea.
Consisting of two 1,230-kilometre (764-mile) lines with a combined capacity of 55 billion cubic metres of gas annually, the project's operator estimated earlier this year that just 148 kilometres (92 miles) remained to be completed.
Financed by the Russian energy giant Gazprom, German energy companies Uniper and Wintershall, as well as Austria's OMV, France's Engie, and the Anglo-Dutch oil concern Shell, the project has been in the US crosshairs since its conception, as Washington maintains the pipeline will increase western Europe's energy dependency on Russia.
Two rounds of sanctions on Nord Stream 2 have been slapped by the US and some of its European allies as part of a push to torpedo the project, resulting in several European contractors, insurers, and certification firms to dropping out.
Moscow regards the moves as an example of unfair competition seeking to boost American liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to Europe. German officials have also defended Nord Stream 2 as a completely economic endeavour.