EU Lawmakers Expected to Back Call to Block Nord Stream 2

European Union lawmakers are expected to support a resolution on Thursday calling for the bloc to stop the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to take Russian natural gas to Europe, in response to the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, Reuters reports.

Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, was detained at the weekend and later jailed for alleged parole violations after flying back to Russia for the first time since being poisoned by a military grade nerve agent.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has continued to back the pipeline despite criticism elsewhere in the EU, said on Thursday her view of the project had not changed despite the Navalny case.

Lawmakers in the European Parliament will vote at 1530 GMT on the resolution, which is expected to pass, calling on the EU to review relations with Russia in light of Navalny’s arrest.

A draft of the resolution, which is not binding but carries political weight, seeks an immediate stop to construction of the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

“The European Parliament … calls on the EU and its member states to critically review cooperation with Russia in various foreign policy platforms and on projects such as Nord Stream 2, the completion of which the EU must stop immediately,” the draft, reviewed by Reuters, said.

Nord Stream 2 is designed to double capacity of the existing undersea Nord Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Germany to 110 billion cubic meters per year, more than half of Russia’s overall pipeline gas exports to Europe.

Led by Russia’s Gazprom with Western partners, the pipeline is more than 90% complete and scheduled to operate from early 2021.

The project has split the EU, with some members saying it will undermine traditional gas transit state Ukraine and increase the bloc’s energy reliance on Russia.

The EU should “devise a new strategy for the EU’s relations with Russia, centered around support for civil society, which promotes democratic values, the rule of law, fundamental freedoms and human rights,” the draft resolution said.