One by one European countries have cut energy ties with Russia, but often at a significant cost, and inter-EU rifts are beginning to show as the inevitable consequence of higher prices are felt. At the same time, Norway as western Europe’s largest oil and gas producer is reaping the profits windfall.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has taken the unusual step of urging for Norway to share its "gigantic" profits made as a result of soaring oil and gas prices, posing during a Sunday Q&A at a political youth forum, "But should we be paying Norway gigantic money for gas — four or five times more than we paid a year ago?" He then asserted in the negative, "This is sick."
"They should share these excess profits. It’s not normal, it’s unjust. This is an indirect preying on the war started by Putin," the Polish leader stressed.
That's when he presented the controversial 'solution', saying: "Write to your young friends in Norway…They should share it, not necessarily with Poland [but] for Ukraine, for those most affected by this war. Isn’t that normal?"
There will likely be further such possible similar scathing rebukes to come and sour grapes expressed at least behind close doors, given some 'frontline' European countries see themselves as first to make the greatest energy and economic sacrifices for the sake of supporting the West's economic war on Putin, while others on the periphery indirectly reap the benefits.
Poland, as a prime example, had weeks after the Russian invasion terminated a badly needed deal to receive Russian gas by way of the Yamal-Europe pipeline. Warsaw refused to pay according to Putin's mandated rubles mechanism. As others sat on the fence or else like Hungary defied pressure to cut off Russian supply, Poland prided itself on its stoic resolve no matter what... "Gas was like our drug" one prominent Polish economic pundit was previously quoted as saying:
Pawel Różyński, an economic commentator in the conservative daily, Rzeczpospolita, said Russia was "like Pablo Escoabar". "Gas was like our drug and turned out to be very addictive because it was cheap, efficient and more ecological than other sources of energy. Poland has been forced to get sober very fast … but we have lost a lot of time defending coal because we thought it protected our sovereignty … and one of the side-effects will be much higher energy costs."
Ironically it was Scandinavian countries Norway and Denmark, which previously inked a deal with Poland to deliver gas from the North Sea via the €2.1bn Baltic Pipe project, that have played an instrumental part in Poland's ability to reduce energy supply from Russia in the first place. Baltic Pipe is expected to come online in 2023, which Warsaw has seen as essential in diversifying its energy sources amid a years-long struggle to wean itself off Russia.
Baltic Pipe, via baltic-pipe.eu:
Bloomberg writes of Poland and its energy demand, "The country sees its gas needs rising by about 50% over the current decade as its utilities build new power plants in place of aging coal-fired units." Further the report notes that "The deal with Norway and Denmark to build the link from the North Sea was crucial for the Polish ruling Law & Justice party’s policy to cut energy ties with Russia."
Poland has long been at the European forefront of warning that Moscow at any time held the power to 'weaponize' its energy hold over Europe, something which it should be remembered former US President Trump a few short years ago came under fire for. He had irked many Western leaders, and was condemned and his arguments dismissed in Western mainstream press, by calling them out as "captives to Russia" (in remarks at the time aimed squarely at Germany).