• Moscow’s will on Warsaw

    Petroleum facilities at the Orlen plant in Płock, Poland. Photo: Tomasz Niesłuchowski / Wyborcza.pl.

    This weekend, Russia has announced that it will cut all oil and gas supplies to Poland. The Polish government claims this will not harm the economy because it is already importing oil from other countries. If this is the case, why has Poland been importing raw materials from Russia for months, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, allowing Russia to finance the war in Ukraine?

    Russia first cut off Poland completely from gas in the second quarter of last year, and then did the same a few days ago with oil.

    Before this happened, Poland was the largest importer of Russian oil in the European Union. Hypocrisy ensued: while the government loudly criticised other EU countries, especially Germany, for importing raw materials from Russia, it quietly did the same.

    When Germany stopped all oil supplies from Russia from the 1 January 2023, the government in Warsaw continued to allow the black gold to flow from Moscow.
    Why this discrepancy?

    Perhaps the issue is about the huge profits which the state-controlled company Orlen has made thanks to cheap oil from Russia. Last year this amounted to 21.5 billion zlotys, or 5.2 billion euros.

    This money goes into the state budget and towards the political projects of those in power. Thanks to this cash, Orlen has purchased several regional newspapers. Local media is often a propaganda vehicle for those in power and a vital tool in the upcoming parliamentary elections this year.

    For those in power, staying in power is the overriding value. Poland could have diversified its energy resources much faster, and not had to rely so much on its old rival in the east. It is good that Poland is no longer importing Russian oil and gas, but this did not happen because of a decision by Warsaw. Ultimately, this was Moscow’s choice.

    This article is part of the "Energy apocalypse postponed" edition
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