Over the weekend, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) indirectly threatened to halt construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in response to the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. “I hope the Russians will not force us to change our position on Nord Stream 2,” Maas told the newspaper, Bild am Sonntag.
However, he also warned of the cost of such a move and that any proponents must “be aware of the consequences.” Halting construction on the project could leave the country open to damages claims from the companies involved. He also suggested that limiting the response to Nord Stream 2 would not match the severity of the crime committed against Navalny.
Some in the CDU have already spoken out against the idea of mothballing Nord Stream 2, including North Rhine-Westphalian leader Armin Latschet.
SPD co-chair and Maas’ party colleague, Norbert Walter-Borjans, also said he was against linking Nord Stream 2 with Navalny’s poisoning. Instead, he claimed that Europe must find an “appropriate answer.”
The head of the Green parliamentary group, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, welcomed the idea, warning against continued cooperation with Moscow. “There will be no change by looking away,” she told EURACTIV’s media partner Der Tagesspiegel.
In the interview, Maas laid out a vague timeline, saying that “if there are no contributions on the Russian side in the next few days, we will have to discuss a response with our partners.”