Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland and expert on international relations Przemysław Żurawski vel Grajewski comments on the influence of Russia’s economic policy on transatlantic relations, among others on the example of the contested Nord Stream 2 project.
BiznesAlert.pl: How does Russia influence transatlantic relations?
Przemysław Żurawski vel Grajewski: Russia exports four things: gas, oil, corruption and destabilization. This is its destabilizing influence. At the same time, this country presents itself as a crucial factor for stabilization.
In Western Europe, one can find the thesis that greater gas supplies from Russia give more security.
One should remember about the geographical factor. Diversification changed by various cases by all countries, depending on location means something else. Differentiation of supplies for France are sources other than, for example, Arabic. For Central and Eastern Europe – other than Russian.
Can these approaches be reconciled?
Decisions are made at government level. It is worth referring to the hitherto experience, that is gas wars from 2006 and 2009. They showed how countries that had no problems with Russia suffered severely from the supply crisis. It was in the case of Slovakia. In Bulgaria, a friendly country to Russia, firewood was cut in the parks. The nature of this game is clear. In the nineties, the head of an equivalent of PGNiG in Slovakia died mysteriously. Later, the manager of the Bulgarian Top Energy was killed when he tried to get rid of Gazprom from the shareholding. Then head of the nuclear power plant in Lithuania, when the Russians presented a competitive project in the Kalinigrad Oblast. The killing of Alexander Litvinenko, which showed that British citizens are not safe, could be a moment of sobering for Britain.
We have regulations, a merging market…
…all reasonable people realize that operations of the Russian energy sector go far beyond market activities under regulation. They have a political nature and are associated with corruption and other abuses. These are the activities of the highest caliber, which shows the attitude of the former Chancellor of the strongest European state, that is Gerhard Schroeder, who is currently lobbying for Nord Stream 2. This is the scale of threats that we face.
Nord Stream 2 is a carrot. Is corruption a stick?
It’s the ability to perish the market in your favor. It is worth asking who of Russia’s business partners would like to defend their interests before a Russian court, what is the political risk of such involvement, whether its assets are safe. However, other giants are able to accept such risks, and other smaller companies, for example Polish ones. For us, getting involved in obscure relations with Russian business is an existential threat. Historical experiences in relations with the Russians should work soberly, and those who are going forward will probably have to burn themselves again.
How will Germany get its fingers burned on Nord Stream 2?
The clearly outlined competition from the US and the will to enter the Central and Eastern European market will weaken the potential of the German-Russian Nord Stream 2. The Americans are capable of resolving this rivalry in their favor.
Interview conducted by Wojciech Jakóbik