Will Navalny’s Poisoning Force Germany to Get Tough on Russia?

“Anyone who demands appeasement and insists that we have to respect Russia are becoming less popular,” said Gressel, and the hardliners against Russia are increasingly being heard.

However, this does not lead to immediate action by Germany. Initial calls for the cancellation of the nearly completed $ 11 billion Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany have faded, and Ms. Merkel’s government has insisted that it seek a European response to the poisoning.

But from the very beginning, Ms. Merkel was unusually interested in the fate of Mr. Navalny. She granted him quick entry to Germany, even though most Russians are banned from the coronavirus threat, and personally announced in particularly harsh words the discovery that Novichok had appeared in the tests against Mr Navalny – which made the Chancellor’s tone unusually sharp referred to as a “crime”.

Speaking to reporters in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Monday, President Emmanuel Macron of France reiterated the Chancellor’s request to Russia to explain what to do with Mr Navalny ahead of a meeting of the European Council, which is part of the executive branch of the European Union, on Thursday and what happened Thursday was Friday. The poisoning was placed on the agenda for that meeting.

“This is clearly an attempted murder on Russian soil against a Russian opposition leader with a chemical agent manipulated in Russia,” Macron told reporters, according to Reuters. “It is therefore up to Russia to clarify.”

A European version of the United States’ Magnitsky Law, sanctioning those who violate human rights, would provide the bloc with an additional tool to use in the case of Mr Navalny against Moscow. But even if Europe brings together its own version, Mr. Meister assumes that those affected will largely limit themselves to people who do not regularly do business outside of Russia.

The bigger question, however, will be how Russia decides to treat Mr Navalny as he planned on returning home, said Janis Kluge, an analyst for Eastern Europe at the German Institute for International Affairs and Security in Berlin.