MOSCOW – The Kremlin said on Thursday that there is no need to assume Russia was behind Alexei Navalny’s Novichok poisoning.
The 44-year-old is in a coma in Berlin’s Charite University Hospital where he was airlifted after falling ill in Siberia last month.
Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov has asked Berlin to produce the Russian opposition leader’s medical reports after Germany announced that he had been poisoned with a nerve agent.
“I would choose words carefully when speaking about accusations against the Russian state because there are no accusations at the moment and there is no reason to accuse the Russian state,” he told reporters. “We aren’t inclined to accept any accusations in this regard.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said there will be an “adequate joint response” from the European Union and NATO.
“We certainly would not like our partners in Germany and other European countries to jump to conclusions and make assessments,” Peskov responded. “We don’t understand what the reason for any sanctions could be.”
Any sanctions could paralyze the construction of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which carries Russian gas to Germany through the Baltic and which had been heavily criticized by the United States, Baltic countries and Poland.
Peskov said the completion of the project is in the interest of both Russia and Germany as well as European energy security.
He added that calls from German politicians to paralyze the scheme had been driven by emotions rather than “concrete facts.”
He insisted that Moscow is keen to establish what caused Navalny’s sudden collapse on a flight in Siberia on Aug. 20.
Peskov said Russian authorities are investigating the situation and called for Germany to hand over information on the case.
Doctors who treated Navalny in the Siberian city of Omsk before his transfer to Berlin said they did not find any evidence that he had been exposed to toxic substances.
Peskov also said there was no need for Russian President Vladimir Putin to comment on the situation and that he has no plans to talk with Merkel.
The German leader described Navalny’s poisoning as “an attack on the fundamental values and basic rights to which we are committed.”
Novichok, developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, was used to poison former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in 2018 in the United Kingdom.