UPDATE 1-Calls mount for Germany to rethink Nord Stream 2 after Navalny poisoning

BERLIN, Sept 3- A European response that involves the Nord Stream Russia after t is needed against Russia after the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent, some politicians and diplomats in Germany said on Thursday. Chancellor Angela Merkel said she expected Moscow to join efforts to clear up what happened and that…

BERLIN, Sept 3 (Reuters) – A European response that involves

the Nord Stream Russia after

t is needed against Russia after

the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny with a

Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent, some politicians and

diplomats in Germany said on Thursday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she expected Moscow to joinefforts to clear up what happened and that Germany would consultits NATO allies about how to respond, raising the prospect ofnew Western sanctions on Russia.

“There must be a European response,” Norbert Roettgen, headof Germany’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee, toldDeutschlandfunk radio on Thursday, when asked whether work onthe NordStream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany should stop.

“We must pursue hard politics, we must respond with the onlylanguage (Russian President Vladimir) Putin understands – thatis gas sales,” said Roettgen, a member of Merkel’s rulingconservatives.

Navalny is lying in intensive care in a hospital in Berlinafter his flight was arranged by activists. A German militarylaboratory produced “unequivocal evidence” that he had beenpoisoned with Novichok, the government said on Wednesday.

Moscow has denied involvement in the poisoning of Navalny, alongtime critic of Putin’s rule, and the Russian foreignministry said Germany’s assertion was not backed by evidence.

Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich SecurityConference and a former ambassador to Washington, backed a jointresponse from the EU and NATO and said softer gestures, such asthe expulsions of diplomats, may not suffice.

“If we want to send a clear message to Moscow with ourpartners, then economic relations must be on the agenda and thatmeans the NordStream 2 project must not be left out,” saidIschinger, adding that a full boycott would not be a good move.

“We can’t put up a wall between the West and Russia, thatwould be a step too far, but there is a middle ground, somethingbetween diplomatic gestures and total boycott,” said Ischinger.(Reporting by Thomas Seythal and Madeline ChambersEditing by Gareth Jones)