Russia’s embassy in Berlin ha said it was baffled by a remark from Polish Ambassador Andrzej Przylebski that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project would serve to boost Russia’s military spending and therefore must be stopped.
In a recent interview with German RND broadcaster, Przylebski said the primary reason Warsaw vehemently opposes the Russia-led energy project is because it feels “threatened” by Moscow. The ambassador argued that a direct link exists between the project and Russia’s military spending, suggesting the profits Russia might receive from gas delivered through the pipeline will be used to boost its military budget.
“What bothers us most is that Russia is getting even more money for its military spending this way,” Przylebski said.
“It’s strange that Germany, on the one hand, supports the sanctions [against Russia] and on the other hand gives [President Vladimir] Putin large sums of money for military spending. Europeans shouldn’t do that. We should weaken the Russians,” the ambassador said, adding that his nation is “ready to fight them [Russians] if necessary.”
Branding Przylebski’s call for Europe to “weaken” Russia “aggressive” and “openly hostile,” the Russian diplomatic mission to Germany said in a statement on Friday that it finds such rhetoric “disappointing and disconcerting.”
“Russia has no plans to attack anyone,” the embassy said, rejecting Przylebski’s assumption that revenue from the project, which is still under construction, would somehow fuel Russia’s war machine.
Russia spends on its military just enough money to ensure its own security and maintain an adequate defensive capability, the Russian embassy said, adding that it is not Moscow but NATO, which Poland is a part of, that is moving its forces further east – to Russia’s doorstep. Moscow’s defense budget is also 24 times smaller than that of the alliance, the embassy said.
The embassy suggested that Warsaw’s opposition to the project was not due to some purported security threat but due to its wish for Russian gas to flow through the old supply route, which allows Poland to profit from the transit. Russia’s gas supplies to Europe depend on the demand, the embassy noted, adding that the demand would hardly shrink simply because Poland manages to push its agenda through.
The alternative gas pipeline route linking Russia and Europe goes through both Poland and Ukraine.
Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken argued that the project could “undermine the interests of Ukraine, Poland and a number of close partners and allies.” Washington might very well have a commercial interest in making Europe ditch the project, too. Russian and even some German politicians have repeatedly said that the US might simply be carving out a niche for sales of American liquified natural gas in Europe.
Berlin, on the other hand, is one of the most steadfast champions of the project, as it maintains that the Nord Stream 2 is vital for the energy security of Germany and Europe. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said earlier that Berlin’s top priority is to create the conditions for the completion of Nord Stream 2.
The pipeline, which goes under the Baltic Sea, is currently more than 95% complete.
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