German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has said that the possibility of sanctions being imposed against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project will depend on how Moscow reacts to the situation with political activist Alexei Navalny, who had purportedly been poisoned with a Soviet-era military-grade nerve agent. She noted that Russia's cooperation on the case of the poisoning, which Berlin has so far blamed on the Kremlin despite presenting no proof of their claims, will determine Germany's response.
At the same time, the minister, who once had been a prime candidate to replace Merkel as the CDU leader and possibly the Chancellor, admitted to having no warm feelings to the project, which united Russian Gazprom and numerous European energy giants, including those from Germany.
"I have always said that I am not fond of the Nord Stream 2 project. To me it was always clear that the security interests of Eastern European states and Ukraine must be taken into consideration", Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said.
On the same day, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas suggested that should Russia not provide proof of its non-involvement in the poisoning, which remains to be proved, Berlin would deem the Kremlin as the culprit in the alleged attack on the opposition figure. Still, Maas expressed hope that Russia will not "force" Germany to change its position in regards to the Nord Stream 2 project, which Berlin historically has defended from criticism, including from some of its EU partners.
Navalny's Alleged Poisoning
Navalny fell gravely ill during a Moscow-bound flight on 20 August and was rushed to a hospital in Omsk following an emergency landing. Medics managed to stabilise his condition following a 44-hour-long fight for his life. Doctors' preliminary diagnosis suggested that the political activist fell into a coma due to a sudden and rapid drop in glucose levels caused by metabolism issues and were ready to continue his treatment, but Navalny's family opted for transporting him to a hospital in Germany.
After he spent a week and a half there without visible improvements to his status, German authorities claimed on 2 September that traces of military-grade nerve agent from the Novichok group had been found in Navalny's blood, despite Russian doctors finding no traces of poison previously. Berlin demanded an explanation from Moscow and threatened sanctions, but the Kremlin refused to give any comments until it sees information on the poisoning from Germany. As of 6 September, Berlin has failed to pass along the results of their tests, claiming that it might take some time, but has continued to rush Moscow with a response to the case.