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UPDATE 1-Germany urges EU to impose sanctions against Russia over Navalny case

Sat, 3rd Oct 2020 11:05

* German foreign minister raises pressure on Moscow

* Maas: Sanctions must be targeted and proportionate

* Says EU can't ignore violation of chemical weapons ban
(Adds more Maas quotes, background, details)

By Michael Nienaber

BERLIN, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko
Maas has called for new European Union sanctions against Russia
over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny with an
internationally banned nerve agent.

Navalny emerged in recent weeks from a coma after suddenly
falling ill during a flight in Siberia and being air-lifted to
Berlin for treatment. German doctors say he was poisoned with
Novichok, a Russian nerve agent.

Germany, France and other Western countries have demanded an
explanation from the Kremlin for Navalny's illness. Russia says
it has seen no firm evidence he was poisoned and denies
involvement in any attack on him.

"I am convinced that there will be no longer any way around
sanctions," Maas told news portal t-online in an interview on
Saturday.

"Sanctions must always be targeted and proportionate. But
such a grave violation of the International Chemical Weapons
Convention cannot be left unanswered. On this, we're united in
Europe," Maas added.

Germany currently holds the rotating presidency of the
27-member bloc. EU leaders will discuss their reaction and
possible sanctions against Russia at their next summit on Oct.
15-16.

"If the result of the German, Swedish and French
laboratories is confirmed, there will be a clear response from
the EU. I'm sure about that," Maas said.

The Navalny case has worsened relations between Moscow and a
number of Western countries. Germany has faced calls to halt the
nearly-completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is meant to bring
more Russian gas directly to Germany.

Asked if European sanctions against Russia should include
Nord Stream 2, Maas said there were more than 100 European
companies involved in the project, half of them in Germany.

"So many European workers would suffer from a construction
freeze," Maas said.

Nord Stream 2 is led by Russia's state gas giant Gazprom
, with half of the funding provided by Germany's Uniper
and BASF's Wintershall unit, Anglo-Dutch
company Shell, Austria's OMV and France's
Engie.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber, editing by Louise Heavens)

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