September 07, 2020 at 12:46PM

German officials are increasing pressure on the Kremlin to cooperate in the investigation into the suspected poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, with one lawmaker noting this weekend that Berlin could rethink its joint massive gas pipeline project with Moscow.

On Sunday, Germany’s foreign minister warned Russia that if it does not contribute to an investigation then it could “force” it to rethink Nord Stream 2, its joint gas pipeline project with Russia.

Maas acknowledged the possibility of sanctions on Russia for the poisoning, but told the newspaper Sunday that such measures should be “pinpointed effectively.” He also conceded that stopping the building of Nord Stream 2, which is almost completed anyway, would hurt not only Russia but German and European firms.

Germany appeared to distance itself further from the possibility of sanctions Monday, with a government spokesman stating that it is “too early” to make a decision on Russia sanctions, Reuters reported. The spokesman added that the Nord Stream 2 project is “not a German project” and that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was “in line” with her foreign minister and his comments on the pipeline.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline goes under the Baltic Sea and will send gas to Germany and the rest of Europe, bypassing Ukraine. It has already come under pressure from the U.S., which sees it as a threat to Europe’s energy security, and a competitor to its own liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to Europe.

The U.S. passed sanctions against the pipeline in late 2019, saying it would target pipe-laying vessels involved in the project, prompting Russia to acquire its own vessels to try to circumvent the measures.

German doctors believe Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent similar to the one used to target a former Russian spy in the U.K. in 2018. Russia denies any involvement in the poisoning, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that: “There are no grounds to accuse the Russian state.”

Germany piles the pressure on Russia after Navalny poisoning, with gas pipeline in the balance, CNBC, Sep 7

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