German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel believes that the fate of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline should not depend on the situation with the criminal prosecution of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. This was discussed during a joint press conference between Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, February 5, Politico reports.
However, asked whether Putin's recent moves would derail the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project that has been criticized by a number of Germany's allies including the U.S. and France, Merkel said her government's position remains unchanged for the time being.
"But we share the opinion that we should not become unilaterally energy dependent on Russia," the chancellor said, noting she thought it was "strategically imperative" to keep talking to Moscow.
Macron, in turn, stressed the importance of maintaining a sovereign European energy strategy.
"I believe that nothing can be said about Nord Stream 2, which is now almost complete, without very close coordination between Germany and France," Macron said.
"We will continue to work together to develop a European energy strategy that is more sovereign and also takes climate issues into account, and to have a strategic exchange with Russia, where we are also ambitious when it comes to energy," he added.
Earlier, Russia expelled three EU diplomats — from Germany, Poland and Sweden for participating in unauthorized protests on January 23.
High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell has called on Russia to reconsider its decision.