BERLIN, September 4. /TASS/. The European Union should not impose sanctions on Russia over the Navalny incident without proof of the authorities’ involvement, Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Schallenberg said Friday in an interview for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
"All measures are possible. There is an EU sanctions procedure against chemical weapon proliferation. Depending on the investigation’s outcome, we will discuss possible sanctions. But they must not be announced arbitrarily without proof. We must know who is responsible, Schallenberg said, when answering a question about EU pressure mechanisms against Russia over the Navalny incident.
The European Union should not lump together the decision on the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline with the incident with blogger Alexei Navalny, the Austrian foreign minister noted.
"You have to be careful and not to lump everything together. Even in the past we managed to distinguish when it concerned Crimea and events in eastern Ukraine. We have always responded precisely to those actions by Moscow that were unacceptable to us. There will certainly be a discussion, but I believe that one should act cum grano salis," Schellenberg said responding to the question if Austria and Germany should continue to support the Nord Stream 2 project.
On Wednesday, the German Cabinet cited the Bundeswehr toxicologists as saying that the Russian blogger had been affected by a poisonous substance from the notorious Novichok family. Berlin called on Russia to clarify the circumstances of the incident. Russia reiterated that it is interested in the investigation of the incident. However, the Russian Foreign Ministry noted that Berlin provided no proof of its version of the incident.
The Nord Stream 2 project envisages the construction of two pipeline strings with a total capacity of 55 bln cubic meters per year from the coast of Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany. To date, 93.5% of Nord Stream 2 has been finished. The construction was suspended at the end of 2019 when the Swiss pipe-laying company Allseas stopped work due to US sanctions.
The German government repeatedly spoke in favor of the project. However, Berlin pointed out that Ukraine should retain the role of a gas transit country in the future.