Energy 8 November, 2017 10:30 am   

Kaliningrad scandal. Five conclusions for Poland

“Sieci” weekly reported that corruption could occur during the promotion of the power bridge from the Kaliningrad Oblast to Poland. This harmful project has not been created, but other are emerging on the horizon. Warsaw must avoid mistakes of the past – writes Wojciech Jakóbik, editor-in-chief of

“Sieci” weekly reveals new facts that may indicate that someone in Poland could have been bribed for a mild energy policy towards Russia. After the Yamal contract, journalists are putting the talks about an inter-connector to Kaliningrad under the microscope.

According to the weekly, the deputy prime minister and leader of the Polish People’s Party, Waldemar Pawlak, surprisingly intensively tried to build a Polish power grid connection with the Kaliningrad Oblast in the end of the previous decade, where a nuclear power plant was to be built. Journalists emphasize that it was so despite the fact that the project could impact the interests of Poland and the Baltic states, which want to become independent of the energy from Russia. The facility in Kaliningrad would hinder the construction of a nuclear power plant in one of these countries.

The weekly also confirms the reports of that the prosecutor’s office investigates the possibility of receiving material or personal benefit, specifically by the former deputy prime minister, who is mentioned in the notice of initiation of the investigation.

The reports of “Sieci” require a brief comment:

1. The revelations of the weekly magazine “Sieci” with numerous references to other scandals related to the PLS [Polish People’s Party] are a wonderful gift to the ruling party, which in parliamentary elections in rural areas will encounter the People’s Party, because these fractions have similar electors.

2. Reports of the weekly confirm that the Russians are not only using Gazprom or Rosneft to achieve foreign policy goals of all energy and fuel companies, but also the Inter RAO, which is considered as an instrument to export electricity and influences of Russia. If corruption had indeed occurred in this case, it would have been an confirmation that energy relations with Russia are a field of abuse, which was not effectively limited by the protection umbrella of the special services. Perhaps it depended on a good will in the Prime Minister’s Office, which lacked there.

3. “Sieci’’ indicates that the activities of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Economy were possible due to the lack of interest of the Prime Minister of Poland in energy policy, which allowed free reign to Pawlak’s people in the government and companies. This is yet another proof that Poland needs strong supervision of the Prime Minister on energy policy, which came out in 2014 with increasing interest in this issue in connection with the illegal annexation of the Crimea and the promotion of the idea of the Energy Union, which was supposed to protect against interruption of supplies from the East, but it was also the main postulate of the Polish Prime Minister’s campaign for the President of the European Council.

4. The case of the power bridge from Kaliningrad to Poland shows that Russian energy projects, e.g. aim to maintain dependence on Russian energy in the post-Soviet area, with particular emphasis on the Baltic states threatened by the bridge project. In the past, the plan of energy supply from the nuclear power plant in the Oblast worked like that. At present, the Rosatom nuclear power plant project in Belarus can be considered as a new instrument of influence, which may serve the analogical purpose. For this reason, it is worth to assess positively the declaration of Poland on no interest in importing energy from this direction despite the new, so far disappointing, policy of rapprochement with Minsk.

5. As a result of the silo policy the Ministry of Economy failed to take into account the concerns of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs due to the risk of worsening Poland’s relations with the Baltic states in case of supporting the idea of the inter-connector from Kaliningrad. A similar problem occurred when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has started the return to Belarus in 2016 and kept sending unclear signals about the project of supplying electricity from Ostrowiec. Only a clear declaration by the Ministry of Energy and the Government’s plenipotentiary for Strategic Energy Infrastructure made the Foreign Ministry to acknowledge that Poland would not get involved in the Russian project that could harm the Baltic states. Foreign policy on energy projects should be coordinated at the governmental level.