Calls to reconsider Nord Stream 2 towards Germany after Naul’s poisoning

File photo: Russia The logo of the Nord Flow 2 gas pipeline project is seen on the Chilebinsk Pipe Rolling Plant on February 26, 2020 at the Chelyabinsk Pipe Rolling Plant in Chelyabinsk.

BERLIN (Reuters) – A European response involving the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline against Russia is needed after poisoning Alexei Navalny, a Kremlin critic with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent, some German politicians and diplomats said on Thursday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she expects Moscow to join efforts to clarify what happened and that Germany will seek advice from its NATO allies on how to respond, raising the possibility of new Western sanctions on Russia.

Asked whether work on the Nordstream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany should be halted, Norbert Rotz, head of Germany’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee, told Deutschelandfunk radio on Thursday that “there must be a European response.”

“We have to make tough politics, we have to respond with only one language (Russian President Vladimir). Putin understands – it’s the sale of gas,” said Rottej, a member of the market’s ruling RuCon.

Naval has been in intensive care at a hospital in Berlin since his flight was arranged by activists. A German military laboratory has produced “clear evidence” that he was poisoned with Novichok, the government said on Wednesday.

Moscow has denied poisoning Navalny, a longtime critic of Putin’s regime, and the Russian Foreign Ministry has said that Germany’s statement is not supported by evidence.

Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference and former ambassador to Washington, echoed the joint EU-NATO response, saying “soft gestures like expulsion of diplomats are not enough.”

“If we want to send a clear message to Moscow with our partners, economic relations must be on the agenda and that means that the Nordstream 2 project should not be left out,” Ishchinger said.

“We can’t build a wall between the West and Russia, it will be a step too far, but there is a middle ground, something between diplomatic gestures and a complete boycott,” Ischinger said.

Reported by Thomas Seithal and Medline Chambers; Edited by Gareth Jones

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.