A senior German politician has called for a “European response” after “unequivocal evidence” found that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with the nerve agent novichok.
Norbert Roettgen, who heads Germany’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee, said it was necessary to “pursue hard politics” and “respond with the only language (President) Putin understands – that is gas sales”.
Mr Roettgen – a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union – said “there must be a European response”.
He had been asked on Deutschlandfunk radio about whether work on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, from Russia to Germany, should stop.
Mrs Merkel has said she expects Moscow to help clear up what happened, adding that her country will consult its NATO allies on how to respond, raising the prospect of new Western sanctions against Russia.
British prime minister Boris Johnson said the Russian government “must now explain what happened to Mr Navalny”, adding that it was “outrageous that a chemical weapon was used”.
British foreign secretary Dominic Raab has said the Russian government has a “clear case to answer”.
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He tweeted: “We will work closely with our international partners to see the perpetrators held to account.”
Mr Raab said he was “deeply concerned” that Mr Navalny had been poisoned with novichok, a nerve agent that was “used with lethal effect in the UK”.
The substance was deployed against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March 2018.
They survived, but Dawn Sturgess, who also came into contact with it, died in July 2018.
On Wednesday, the German government said Mr Navalny had “without doubt” been poisoned with novichok.
Tests performed on samples taken from the Russian opposition leader from his hospital bed in Berlin showed the presence of the Soviet-era agent, Mrs Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said.
Testing by a special German military laboratory showed proof of “a chemical nerve agent from the novichok group”, he added.
Mr Navalny was taken ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on 20 August and was taken to a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk after the plane made an emergency landing.
Supporters believe he was poisoned while waiting for the flight at the airport.
Source : Sky News