13:49 GMT26 October 2020
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    Berlin, which has long defended the Nord Stream 2 project, has faced pressure to take steps against the pipeline in light of so-far unfounded accusations against Moscow of purportedly poisoning opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has elaborated on Berlin's decision not to include the Nord Stream 2 project in its list of sanctions, explaining the move by the fact that it is not a German-Russian project, but an international one. He added that since several European countries are involved in the pipeline's construction, there must be an EU consensus regarding any sanctions against it.

    "For us, it is important that these are not German-Russian consequences that we draw but that these are European ones", Maas said.

    Earlier, Germany threatened to impose "targeted and proportionate sanctions" against Russian officials purportedly involved in the alleged poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny. Maas said the sanctions would go into effect should Moscow not "explain" who allegedly poisoned the political activist in Russia and how. Germany and France later announced that they would forward their targeted sanctions suggestions to the European Union member states for consideration.

    What Happened to Alexei Navalny?

    Navalny fell gravely ill on a domestic flight on 20 August and was rushed to an Omsk hospital, where he went into a coma. Despite initial claims by his spokesperson of poisoning, the doctors could not find any traces of such in his bloodwork. Upon stabilising the patient, they gave a greenlight to transfer him to the Charite hospital in Germany as per a request from the activist's family.

    After spending a week there, German authorities claimed that the country's military labs had found traces of a military-grade nerve agent from the Novichok group in his blood, although the Charite clinic itself never reached such conclusions following its own tests. Berlin immediately accused Moscow of poisoning the opposition politician, demanding that it "explain" its alleged actions. At the same time, Berlin failed to present evidence of poisoning, let alone proof that Russia was behind the purported act.

    Moscow strongly denies the accusations of being responsible for Navalny's condition and has dismissed the allegations that he was poisoned with a nerve agent, pointing to the results of the tests carried out at the Omsk hospital.

    Despite a lack of evidence presented, European and other Western governments began to consider imposing sanctions against Russia should it not provide an "explanation". One of the main candidates for inclusion in the sanctions list was Nord Stream 2 – a joint project of Russia’s Gazprom and several European energy giants that would allow gas deliveries to Germany to be doubled.

    Related:

    Paris, Berlin Will Send EU Countries Proposals for Sanctions Over Navalny Case, Ministers Say
    Navalny Affair Follows Pre-Planned Scenario - Russian Foreign Ministry Responds to OPCW Report
    OPCW: Substances in Navalny Similar to Novichok, but Not Included in List of Prohibited Chemicals
    Targeted Sanctions Inevitable if Russia Does Not Explain What Happened to Navalny, Maas Says
    Goal of Campaign Around Navalny Is to Create Pretext for Sanctions Against Russia - Envoy
    Tags:
    Germany, sanctions, Nord Stream 2
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