Polish Briefing 18 September, 2019 10:00 am   
Editorial staff

Polish Briefing: Russia changes the narrative on OPAL: a verdict in favor of Poland is not a failure

What goes on in Poland on the 18th of September.

Russia changes the narrative on OPAL: a verdict in favor of Poland is not a failure

The Russian media initially reported a surprising judgment of the European Court of Justice in the OPAL case in favor of Poland, which would hit Russia’s negotiating position in talks about the future of gas supplies through Ukraine. Now they write the opposite.

The verdict hits Gazprom’s plans

As early as September 11, Russian Kommersant quoted by admitted that the verdict ordering Gazprom to reduce supplies through the Nord Stream branch in Germany called OPAL is a precedent that may harm Nord Stream 2 and affect the negotiations of the so-called trilateral process involving the European Commission, Ukraine and Russia.

Russian experts calm down

Russian experts cited by TASS on September 16 have a different opinion. According to Alexei Grivach of the Energy Security Fund, the judgment of the Court may even improve the negotiating position of the Russians, because it will increase gas prices in Europe and might be considered unfair. Finam analyst Alexei Kalachev claims that the verdict was not a surprise to the Russian side, because consent to Gazprom’s larger deliveries by OPAL was conditional, and therefore its withdrawal could be expected. Maria Belova from Vygon Consulting indicates that a possible appeal of the European Commission against the judgment may take place only after the formation of the new composition of this institution in the autumn of this year.

Griwach argues that the continuation of the dispute also depends on the influence of the US, which pursue geopolitical and commercial interests causing a “gas crisis” in Europe. He does not mention that such crises break out in Europe every time Gazprom limits or interrupts delivery through Ukraine, and therefore talks about their terms after the end of the transmission contract at the end of 2019 are necessary.