Foreign Ministry opposes sanctions after Navalny poisoning

While Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) publicly warned against conflating political and economic issues after the poisonous attack on Alexei Navalny in the summer of 2020, his ministry’s internal stance against economic sanctions was clearer at the time. This comes from the files of a meeting between Schallenberg and OMV boss Rainer Seele in September 2020, where the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline was also discussed.

“We need to keep our cool despite Navalny. Close coordination with DE and partners. It is unwise to mix politics and business,” says Schallenberg’s bold-print talking points prepared by Section III.9, responsible for energy issues. The Foreign Minister also needs to explain that he sees a critical attitude from the German federal government towards economic sanctions in connection with the Russian opposition politician Navalny, and that he also wants to remain committed to Nord Stream 2. Reference should also be made to the risk that Russia may also impose sanctions on “our companies” in response to the sanctions, and the meeting with Seele examined two “fundamental questions”: whether Russia will be able to complete the pipeline despite US sanctions and what damages there will be. It will result from a project failure for OMV.

“Sanctions serve US economic and geopolitical interests more than Europe’s energy security; the US is geopolitically opposed to the RU and is heavily interested in its own gas exports (LNG) in the EU and the UK, so the transfer of gas export capacities from the RU to the EU “But US sanctions strengthen RU in the long-term CN gas market (new pipeline and LNG)”, the responsible officials left no doubt about their point of view with subtle explanations. What Schallenberg actually said to the OMV boss a few days later is not included in the State Department’s reading of the meeting. On 30 September 2020, Seele thanked the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the “clear words” of Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen and then-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) to stick to Nord Stream 2. It provides energy supply services to Europe. OMV chief executive explained that gas from Russian production is 25-35 percent cheaper than gas from alternative sources, according to the document, which was first mentioned on Sunday by Green MP Nina Tomaselli on her Twitter account, formerly known as X.

Schallenberg, who was confronted at the time about economic sanctions and his stance on Navalny, denied on ZIB2 on Sunday evening that he put economic interests above human life. He referred to an interview with the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” on September 4, 2020, which only mentioned possible EU sanctions linked to the use of chemical weapons. In mid-October 2020, the EU imposed sanctions on six senior Russian bureaucrats and a chemical weapons laboratory. It is not known whether these measures of the EU have any effect.

On Sunday evening, Schallenberg was also self-critical: “In retrospect, perhaps it was naive. We tried again and again to separate and say: let’s not let all the channels of dialogue fall asleep, let’s not burn all the bridges.” “Maybe they couldn’t see all the markings on the wall clearly enough,” he said. The Minister of Foreign Affairs emphasized that since February 2022 and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, there are no longer any doubts. There was an “instalment murder” in the Navalny case. Schallenberg also described Vladimir Putin’s Russia in a similar manner to Federal President Van der Bellen: “Of course it is a criminal and murderous regime,” he said.


Source: Vienna


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