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Poland to EU: Follow our lead on scrapping Russian energy

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Poland will end all imports of Russian energy by the end of this year, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Wednesday, calling the step “the most radical plan” of any EU country.

“We’re calling for everyone in Europe to follow our footsteps,” Morawiecki said. “When we were consequently carrying out our plan to wean away from gas, from oil, our Western neighbors have made themselves dependent on Russia.”

That’s a dig at Germany, which has been reluctant to stop buying Russian oil, gas and coal despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — although Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck did call on Wednesday for Germans to use less energy.

“When others in Europe were looking at Russia as a trade partner, we knew that Russia was using gas and oil, especially gas, as a blackmail tool,” Morawiecki said. “Today this tool of blackmail has turned into a tool of war.”

Poland gets 46 percent of its gas, 64 percent of its oil and 15 percent of its coal from Russia, according to Forum Energii, a think tank. That makes it one of the top EU buyers of Russian energy — an uncomfortable position for a government that sees itself as a key ally of Ukraine. It’s also been under fire from the political opposition, which has accused the nationalist government of moving too slowly on Russian energy.

The government moved first on coal — the smallest source of imported Russian energy and one that’s long been attacked by state controlled Polish coal miners. On Tuesday, the government announced it would ban Russian coal imports, with Morawiecki saying the law to do that would enter into force in April or May at the latest. 

The next steps will be to get rid of Russian oil and gas — which Morawiecki said should be finalized by the end of the year. 

He also called for the European Commission to introduce a new tax on Russian fossil fuels, “so that trade happens in a fair way.”

Warsaw has been preparing to minimize its dependency on Russian supplies for years.

When it comes to gas, its contracts with Gazprom expire at the end of this year and the government has no plans to renew them. Poland will replace Russian supplies with gas from Norway via the new Baltic Pipe. It’s also expanding its liquefied natural gas terminal in Świnoujście on the Baltic Sea, and signing new contracts with more LNG suppliers from countries like the U.S. and Qatar. 

On oil, Poland’s Climate and Environment Minister Anna Moskwa said that Poland would replace Russian oil pumped to Poland via the Druzhba pipeline with crude delivered by tanker to a new oil terminal in Gdańsk. “The terminal’s reloading capacity is currently 36 million tons per year and is sufficient to meet the crude oil demand of Polish refineries,” she said.

To achieve full independence from Russian fossil fuels, Poland is also updating its long-term 2040 energy policy roadmap with energy security provisions that call for a rapid increase in renewable and nuclear energy.

All of this should be an example to other EU countries, Morawiecki said.

“We call on our neighbors, partners, friends from the EU all to do the same,” he said. “Move as quickly as possible away from Russian oil, Russian gas, Russian coal and a fair tax that will level the playing field across the EU. This is our plan for the EU — to snatch this weapon from Putin’s hands, from Russia’s hands.”

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