Poland “will be independent from Russian gas in six months”, says PM

Poland will be independent of Russian gas within half a year thanks to its long-term efforts to secure alternative supplies, the country’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has announced on a visit to Austria. He called for other countries to do the same in order to “cut oxygen” from Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The Law and Justice (PiS) government has for years been seeking to end Poland’s reliance on Russian gas. In 2019, it announced that it would halt the permanent import of Russian gas once the current contract with Gazprom expires at the end of this year.

Poland better prepared for Russia cutting off gas than others in Europe, says deputy PM

Instead, it has sought to increase imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar and the United States through a terminal in Świnoujście that opened in 2015, and has also almost completed work on the Baltic Pipe, which will bring Norwegian gas to Poland via Denmark.

Thanks to these “consistent actions by our government…in six months we will be independent from Russian gas for the first time in decades”, said Morawiecki yesterday in Vienna, speaking alongside his Austrian counterpart, Karl Nehammer.

“Russia has attacked Ukraine with its army, which is committing war crimes,” added Morawiecki. “That is why we need to cut the oxygen from this war – money from the oligarchs, from oil, gas and other commodities.”

During his meeting with Nehammer, the two heads of government discussed “how to develop a roadmap for different countries to decisively end our dependence on Russia”, announced the Polish prime minister’s office.

A day earlier, the European Commission had outlined a plan to make the EU independent of Russian fossil fuels “well before 2030, starting with gas”. By “diversifying gas supplies, speeding up the roll-out of renewable gases and replacing gas in heating and power generation”, it aims to reduce demand for Russian gas by two thirds this year.

“We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us,” said the commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen. “We must become independent from Russian oil, coal and gas.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also led Germany to suspend the certification process for Nord Stream 2, a recently completed pipeline bringing Russian gas to Germany. Poland has long opposed the project, saying that it would increase Russia’s ability to “blackmail” Europe.

Polish PM appeals to Germany to stop Nord Stream 2 Russian gas pipeline

During Morawiecki’s visit to Vienna, he also discussed “joint aid activities for Ukraine, support for those fleeing the war and the extension of sanctions for Russia”, said Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller.

That included calling for sanctions against “oligarchs in Vienna who finance Putin”, said Morawiecki, noting that he had made the same appeal on a visit to London.

The Polish premier also reiterated his government’s support for Ukraine to be put on the path to joining the European Union. Shortly after Russia’s invasion, Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, called for Ukraine to be given an “immediate express path” to membership.

Ukraine should have “immediate express path” to EU membership, says Polish president

Main image credit: Adam Guz / KPRM (under public domain)

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