EU MPs Renew Calls to Block Nord Stream 2
Members of the European Parliament have renewed calls to halt work on Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline, in light of the detention of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
Navalny was arrested on January 17 after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was being treated following an attempted assassination attempt in August, allegedly carried out by Russian security services. He has been placed in pre-trial detention for 30 days on an old charge of embezzlement, which he says is trumped up.
581 EU lawmakers on January 21 supported a resolution to "significantly strengthen the EU's restrictive measures vis-a-vis Russia" over Navalny's jailing, with 50 voting against and 44 abstaining.
This would involve sanctions on individuals and legal entities involved in the decision to detain Navalny.
The resolution also called on the EU "to immediately stop the completion" of Nord Stream 2, whose offshore section is around 95% complete. Construction was halted in December 2019 after the US imposed sanctions on the project, but was resumed last month after Russia deployed its own pipelaying vessels.
EU lawmakers have urged the bloc to prevent Nord Stream 2 on several past occasions when tensions with Russia have flared up. But Germany, which will receive much of Nord Stream 2's gas, has maintained its support, stressing that the pipeline is a commercial, rather than political project.
"Sanctions should also be imposed against Russian oligarchs linked to the regime, members of president Putin's inner circle and Russian media propagandists, who possess assets in the EU and can currently travel there," the European Parliament said in a statement. "Additional restrictive measures could also be taken under the new EU Global Human Right Sanctions Regime."
There should be a critical review of co-operation with Russia in foreign policy and on projects like Nord Stream 2, and "the EU should no longer be a welcoming place for Russian wealth of unclear origin."
"With a view to the new administration in Washington, parliament stresses that the EU should use this momentum to strengthen transatlantic unity in protecting democracy and fundamental values against authoritarian regimes," the parliament said. "The resolution finally demands the immediate and unconditional release of Alexei Navalny and of all other persons detained in relation to his return to Russia, be they journalists, members of his team or citizens showing support."