By its very trajectory Nord Stream 2, as with its relative Nord Stream 1, was bound to be controversial. Threaten U.S. sanctions on companies building the pipeline and you have enough to constitute a veritable crisis. And now, with the suspected poisoning of chief Kremlin nemesis Alexei Navalny, you have one.
Since the announcement earlier this week that Navally was beyond doubt poisoned by Soviet-style nerve agent Novichok and Angela Merkel's own statement that Navalny was a victim of a crime, political pressure on the Chancellor to once and for all kill Nord Stream 2 has never been more acute.
"We must pursue hard politics, we must respond with the only language (Russian President Vladimir) Putin understands - that is gas sales," said Norbert Roettgen, the conservative head of Germany's parliamentary foreign affairs committee. He also said that completion of Nord Stream 2 "would be the maximum confirmation and encouragement for Putin to continue this kind of politics".
Russia, sensing the peril Nord Stream 2 is in, has denied involvement in the attack on Navalny and urged German decision-makers not to be "hasty" in meting out punishment for his situation.
While the development of Nord Stream 2 has been slowed with the threat of US sanctions and various environmental considerations, even the pipeline's harshest critics were resigned to the fact that sooner or later Nord Stream 2 would likely be finished, particularly in view of the progress already made on the carrier: 2300 km of the final 2460 km have already been laid.
The project has split the European Union, with some members saying it will undermine the traditional gas transit state, Ukraine and increase the bloc's energy reliance on Russia.
Thus far Merkel has been steadfast in her support of Nord Stream 2. Her predecessor Gerhard Schröder is one of the pipeline's staunchest advocates and serves at the same time as Chairman of the Nord Stream AG in Switzerland. Nonetheless the clamor to do something is growing. As the universally respected Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference and a former ambassador to Washington and several other countries has said:
"If we want to send a clear message to Moscow with our partners, then economic relations must be on the agenda and that means the Nord Stream 2 project must not be left out."