by F. William Engdahl, New Eastern Outlook:
If the feeling of pity would be worth a damn one would be tempted to feel sorry for the hapless Poles. Now Poland’s leaders have again been seduced, this time by a dangerous Washington stratagem: to try to become the Natural Gas Hub of the EU displacing Germany and pushing Russia out.
The Poles seem to have a penchant to fall for self-destructive projects. That was the case in 1939 when the Polish Foreign Minister Józef Beck signed with Britain and later France the Polish-British Common Defense Pact believing that Britain would defend Poland’s sovereignty in the event of a Nazi invasion only to find itself divided as spoils of war by Hitler and Stalin while Britain and France stood by quietly smiling. They had another agenda from the Poles.
It was also the case when the Polish people, especially Lech Walesa, believed the Reagan CIA and National Endowment for Democracy. Solidarność, with millions in CIA and State Department money via the National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA NGO-front, took Poland from the frying pan of Soviet control to the fire of George Soros and his Harvard Boys with their free market hyperinflation and looting of the nation’s most valuable assets. The “national DNA” if we can speak of such, seems to lack one or more vital amino acids that cause them to distort true perception of who their friends and who their enemies are.
Now, during the recent “red carpet” reception of US President Trump in Warsaw, the Poles fell all over themselves to embrace the US President and to believe his promises to make Poland a rival to Russian natural gas for the EU. In his July 6 remarks to the meeting of the Three Seas Initiative in Warsaw Trump told the leaders present that they should take US energy exports as an alternative to dependence on Russian gas.
The Three Seas Initiative is a loose effort of 12 Central and East European nations to coordinate energy policies among others. Trump told his Polish audience, clearly referring to Russia, “Let me be clear about one crucial point. The United States will never use energy to coerce your nations, and we cannot allow others to do so. You don’t want to have a monopoly or a monopolistic situation.” He then went on to state “We are committed to securing your access to alternate sources of energy, so Poland and its neighbors are never again held hostage to a single supplier of energy.”
LNG Energy Hub?
Trump’s stop in Warsaw on route to the Hamburg G20 summit was calculated to feed Polish dreams of US backing to block the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea from Ust Luga south of St. Petersburg to Greifswald, Germany midway between Berlin and Hamburg and 80 km from the Polish border. The Poles are furious that they lose not only the transit fees from Gazprom for a Polish pipeline from Ukraine. They also want to push Russia’s Gazprom out of the huge and growing EU gas energy market. This is precisely the Trump Administration long-term agenda. In his meetings with the Polish government Trump reportedly spoke about LNG gas infrastructure and the enormous possibilities to import US LNG from its surplus of shale gas.
US shale gas sent by special tankers from the very limited number of LNG terminals existing in the USA East Coast and Gulf of Mexico doesn’t come cheap.
This June the first US shipment of LNG came to Poland from Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass plant in Louisiana. And it didn’t come cheap. Energy consultants estimate the price at the Polish LNG terminal in Swinoujscie to be $5.97 per million British thermal units. The same gas in the US market today goes for around $3 per million Btu. Estimates are that Russian gas to Germany costs about $5 per MBtu. The Poles are getting suckered because of their Russophobia and manipulation by Washington.
A NATO Energy Strategy
The Polish strategy has been a long time in the making, and supported by the US and the Atlantic Council. Already in 2014 Poland began construction on its liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, in the Baltic port of Swinoujscie at a cost of nearly $1 billion. It can accept 5 billion cubic metres of gas per year, and is discussing doubling that. But that’s only the first part of what in fact is a NATO strategy to drive Russian gas out of EU markets.
The strategy calls for making Poland a natural gas hub for Central Europe via linking of Poland with Lithuania, Ukraine, Slovakia and the Czech Republic through interconnectors.
It’s part of what’s called the Three Seas Initiative, founded last year by Poland and Croatia to link energy strategies among the twelve countries bordering the Adriatic, the Baltic and the Black Sea. Croatia’s government is also trying to construct a controversial floating LNG terminal on the island of Krk in the Adria amid major opposition in the popular Croatian tourist region of Istria. In addition to Poland and Croatia the initiative includes Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia and Austria, almost all of whom are presently relying on Russian natural gas.
Atlantic Council, the Washington-based think tank de facto of NATO strategy, is the public driver of the Three Seas Initiative to try to push Russian gas out from the former communist countries of Eastern and Central Europe. Ironically, Germany and other Western EU countries back the Gazprom Nord Stream II already in construction, putting them in conflict with Poland’s Three Seas Initiative.
In May the Atlantic Council held a conference in Washington on the Three Seas strategy. Former Obama National Security Director, General James Jones gave a keynote speech in which he pushed the strategic importance for the Trump Administration to back the Three Seas Initiative on energy “independence” from Russian gas. In his remarks Jones stated that the purpose of the Initiative is to reduce or eliminate the “Kremlin’s strong hand” in the European energy sector. Trump’s July 6 speech to the Three Seas Initiative in Warsaw could have been written, and maybe it was, by General Jones himself. Strategic geopolitical Washington policies are not penned by Presidents, at least not since the CIA assassination of JFK in November 1963. Making Poland an energy hub along with Croatia for import of very expensive US LNG natural gas is Washington geopolitical strategy against Russia.
New EU Fault Lines
In addition to taking aim at Russia energy influence in the eastern and central European EU states, the Trump policy on LNG gas to Poland and potentially Croatia is aimed at hitting the dominant influence of Germany and France over EU affairs. The latest US Senate economic sanctions against Russia take direct aim at the companies involved in backing the German-Russian Nord Stream II pipeline expansion across the Baltic independent of Poland transit. If passed by the House of Representatives and signed by Trump, it would impose severe economic sanctions on EU companies involved in energy projects with Russia, such as Nord Stream II.