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Pressure on Nord Stream 2 Increased Before Navalny Case, German Lawmaker Claims

In mid-September, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Berlin does not rule out freezing the Nord Stream 2 project over the alleged poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

Olga Petersen, a member of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, told the Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda that the increasing pressure on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project started before the situation surrounding Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

She argued that in early August, “three US senators, led by Ted Cruz, wrote an official letter, in which they issued threats to the administration of the German port of Mukran, used for the construction of the [Nord Stream 2] gas pipeline”.

The lawmaker warned that Berlin abandoning the project, in which she said Germany is interested, would entail negative consequences for the country’s economy.

Petersen called for completing the pipeline’s construction, adding that a possible shutdown of Nord Stream 2 would immediately result in “colossal losses” for the German and European companies taking part in the project, and that it may also lead to an increase in the gas price for Germany.

Nord Stream 2 is a $10.5 billion joint venture between Russia’s Gazprom, Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie, and UK/Dutch energy conglomerate Royal Dutch Shell.

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When completed, the pipeline will be capable of transporting up to 55 billion cubic metres of gas per year from Russia to Germany, thereby doubling the capacity of the existing Nord Stream network and turning Germany into a gas hub.

Washington has repeatedly tried to persuade the EU to abandon the project, claiming the pipeline is aimed at making Europe dependent on Russian gas, among other things. Russia, in turn, has emphasised that Nord Stream 2 is a purely economic project that should not be politicised.

In mid-September, Berlin announced the possibility of freezing, sanctioning, or otherwise acting against the project amid pressure from Germany’s US and European allies to “punish” Russia for the alleged poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

Navalny Case

This followed the German government claiming earlier this month that doctors at Charite hospital had found traces of a nerve agent from the Novichok group in Navalny's system.

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Russia said that Berlin lacks evidence to back up its allegations and noted that Russian doctors had found no toxic substances in the opposition figure’s body.

On 20 August, Navalny fell ill during a domestic flight in Russia. He was initially treated in the Siberian city of Omsk, where the plane made an emergency landing, but was then flown to Berlin once the doctors decided that he was fit for cross-border aerial transportation.

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