Europe needs to impose new sanctions on Russia following the arrest and sentencing of Alexei Navalny and scrapping Nord Stream 2 should be top of the list, write a group of six MEPs from the European People’s Party (EPP).
Tomas Tobé (Sweden), Sandra Kalniete (Latvia), Andrius Kubilius (Lithuania), Sirpa Pietikäinen (Finland), Riho Terras (Estonia), and Pernille Weiss (Denmark) all lead their respective national delegations of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament.
New sanctions against Russia are urgently needed, following the arbitrary arrest and sentencing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Nord Stream 2 should be on the top of the list in response to the Kremlin’s recent crackdown on the opposition and on democracy.
We call on Germany to abandon the project, which is effectively undermining Europe’s economic and environmental interests, as well as our security and political integrity.
The unjust arrest of Mr Navalny, upon his return to Russia, has sparked mass demonstrations throughout the country. Brave protesters defy both the cold and the excessive violence from the authorities, in a stance for freedom and democracy.
The regime has responded by arresting thousands of people. What is worse, after a show trial, a Russian court sentenced Mr. Navalny to three and a half years in prison.
This turmoil illustrates, once again, that the authoritarianism of the Kremlin knows no limits.
EU member states have, rightfully, condemned the arrest and sentencing of Mr. Navalny, but have failed to agree on new sanctions. Action is urgently needed, specifically targeting Nord Stream 2.
It would constitute a clear stand against the unlawful actions of the Russian regime and a demonstration of support for the democratic movement.
In addition, to put an end to the project is indeed in the EU’s own interest and in line with our commonly agreed policy objectives.
The pipeline is from the start a Russian power move and has no commercial bearing, designed only to concentrate a quarter of all European Union gas consumption and 80 % of Russian gas imports to a single route, effectively cutting of Ukraine as a transit country and cementing our dependence on Russia for our energy security.
Due to its size, route and strategic character, it would uproot the architect of the European gas market and jeopardise the security and independence of our continent. Nord Stream 2 will also hamper Europe’s climate and environment ambitions and conflicts with all intents and purposes of our Energy Union.
There is no logic behind deepening our dependence on Russian gas, while at the same time allowing the Ukrainian transit route to dry out and gifting Gazprom an increasingly dominant position on the European market.
Instead, it is time to take further steps towards a fully developed Energy Union, built on security, solidarity and innovations, to the benefit of climate action, our security and energy diversification and independence.
Our countries, among others such as the United States, have for a long time been reluctant to put Europe’s energy security in the hands of the Kremlin. In January, a big majority in the European Parliament called for the EU to stop Nord Stream 2 immediately. Recently, France appealed for a new decision from Germany on the issue.
Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel have already shown significant, life-saving, support for Alexei Navalny. Further sanctions aimed at Nord Stream 2 would, by all meanings of the word, be the right thing to do.