Poland vows to resist Russia’s Gas Pipeline to Germany
In return for Poland’s pledge to obstruct Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany and rest of Europe, President Donald Trump has recently signed off on Poland’s entry to the State Department’s Visa Waiver Program, letting Polish citizens enter the US for 90 days without a visa. The move follows defense talks with President Andrzej Duda. 30 other European countries are already members of the program, including Polish neighbors Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Lithuania.
The two leaders held talks on defense, security and energy on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York, earlier last month. Trump has also given green light to plans of relocating an estimated 1,000 US troops to Poland, with the Polish government building facilities to house them.
US has called the project a “threat”to European security. The pipeline route has so far been laid through the territorial waters and the exclusive economic zones of Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Germany. Only one remaining stretch of the pipeline, to be laid through Danish territorial waters, is pending official authorization. Last week, Gazprom said that the Nord Stream 2 project, which is planned to be finished by year’s end, is 83 percent complete as 2042 km of line has already been laid.
The project involves the construction of two pipelines with a total capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year, to extend from the Russian coast to Germany – and further on to other European customers – through the Baltic Sea. Berlin has insisted that the project will help the country meet its growing demand for energy as it phases out coal and nuclear power.
Earlier this month, Poland’s state-owned energy company PGNiG said it won’t extend the contract for gas supplies with Russian Gazprom after 2022. According to PGNiG head Peter Wozniak, Russian gas is overpriced. Under the agreement with Gazprom, Warsaw can annually receive 10.2 billion cubic meters of gas, which is delivered via the Yamal gas pipeline through Belarus. Poland already has a 20-year deal to buy LNG from the US in a bid to give up Russian gas entirely, despite the fact that American gas is more expensive and is not as reliable in meeting Poland’s needs. Warsaw has also inked a number of contracts with American companies to replace Russian supplies. That should make Poland the future center for the re-export of American LNG in the region, said the US ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher.
Poland has become an “American puppet and does not have its own policy, fully repeating the words of its elder brother,” according to Vladimir Dzhabarov, the Russian first deputy head of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs.“They will not be able to hinder the project, but they will try to slow down the construction. But I think that Western Europe will not accept this, particularly Germany, which is interested in Russian gas,” Dzhabarov said.
Washington is one of the most vocal critics of the Russian pipeline project. Trump has previously slammed the pipeline as a “tremendous mistake.” Earlier this year, US president Donald Trump criticised Germany over the Nord Stream 2 deal and warned that the US might level sanctions in response to the deal.
The US also warned Denmark about the pipeline in 2017, citing that it feared NATO nations would be too dependent on Russian gas. Whether or not the Denmark decides to allow the pipeline to pass through its territory in the Baltic Sea, the link will ultimately be established, Putin said earlier last week at the Russian Energy Week forum.