Poland finds it difficult to go cold turkey on Russian energy – POLITICO

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WARSAW – Poland was one of the loudest voices calling for all EU countries to immediately stop buying Russian oil, gas and coal in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine – setting itself as an example for others.

But Warsaw is making sure a shutdown doesn’t harm its people too much – the same concern voiced by other EU countries.

Last weekend was Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki started a poster campaign to awaken the conscience of Western societies and politicians. Vans with banners reading “#Bloodoil”, “#stopRussianoil” and pictures of war-ravaged Ukraine traveled across Western Europe from Warsaw.

“Germany, France, Austria, Italy – these countries must do as much as possible to stop the war in Ukraine and suspend funding for Putin’s war machine,” Morawiecki said called at a press conference and called for tougher sanctions, particularly in the energy sector.

His comments come as the EU is considering how and when it could impose an embargo on Russian oil, which could be included in the bloc’s next package of sanctions.

Despite the violent rhetoric, Poland too is finding it difficult to give up Russian energy.

Poland gets 46 percent of its gas, 64 percent of its oil and 15 percent of its coal from Russia forum energy, a think tank. This makes it one of the largest EU buyers of Russian energy – an uncomfortable position for a government that sees itself as a key ally of Ukraine.

Poland was one of the first EU countries to pledge to ban imports of all Russian fossil fuels. The government said it stopped buying coal from Russia and Belarus this month, while an EU embargo will not come into effect until August after a transitional period.

But oil and gas are proving tougher.

Anna Moskwa, Poland’s climate and environment minister, wants the EU to act quickly to ban Russian oil imports without a long phase-out period.

“This transition period creates this unnecessary delay: If we are ready for this decision, it doesn’t make much difference whether it’s today or in a month,” she told POLITICO last week.

Despite this warning, the government is creating some leeway and allowing Poland to halt Russian gas and oil purchases by the end of the year.

Moskva explained that the delay was necessary because it was difficult for one country to end Russian energy imports on its own.

“If we get rid of [of it] alone, then it is a challenge for a single country. There is no common energy policy yet, it is just a crisis response, a response to the war situation,” she said.

Earlier this month, an amendment to the coal ban law that would also immediately end imports of Russian liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) – used mainly in vehicles and for cooking – was opposed by MPs from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. including Morawiecki.

Two-thirds of Polish LPG imports came from Russia in 2020, accounting for more than half of consumption. according to to the Polish LPG Association. The government estimates it fuels 3.5 million cars.

“Although we support sanctions, we consider this change to be bad and harmful,” said Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin called after voting. “Denying Poles from refueling with cheaper fuel is something cruel, especially when it comes to less affluent Poles… You will also meet small Polish entrepreneurs. what do you want to tell them For depriving them of that fuel today?”

Morawiecki said Poland will stop all LPG imports by the end of the year.

This has exposed the government to charges of hypocrisy by the opposition.

“After 58 days of war, government companies continue to buy oil, gas and liquefied petroleum gas from Russia, import coal and provide airspace for selected Russian cargo flights. Instead of hiding from shame [Morawiecki] is launching a poster campaign to stop other countries from doing what he is doing!” Michał Szczerba, a deputy from the main opposition Civic Platform party, called on twitter.

It’s not just about oil and gas.

Warsaw is allowing Russian planes to fly over Poland to transport nuclear fuel to Hungary – a country staunchly opposed to further sanctions on Russian fossil fuels and refusing to allow arms shipments to Ukraine through its sovereign territory.

According to a letter seen by POLITICO and first reported According to Polish news website Onet, the Hungarian embassy in Warsaw asked the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for permission for the flights earlier this month, stating: “Such transport is exceptional and extremely important to maintain the safe operation of the nuclear power plant [in Paks]and to maintain security of supply for Hungarian consumers.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Paweł Jabłoński confirmed to POLITICO that such a permit was granted citing “security reasons” and stressed that similar permits were issued for Russian nuclear fuel supplies to Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

This provoked another counterattack.

“The skies over Poland may be closed, but PiS has given Russia permission to ship nuclear fuel through Poland.” tweeted Jan Grabiec, spokesman for the Civic Platform party, said the government should put up the posters it sent across Europe at the Law and Justice party’s headquarters.


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