RRussia turned off the oil tap in Poland on Saturday without prior notice. This was announced by the Polish oil company PKN Orlen. “We are fully prepared for this. Only 10 percent of crude oil comes from Russia and we will replace it from other sources,” CEO Daniel Obajtek wrote on Twitter. All refineries could be supplied with tankers via the Baltic Sea, petrol and diesel buyers would not be affected.
Government officials initially did not comment. The Russian move comes a day after a new package of EU sanctions against Russia was passed and the first Leopard 2 tanks, delivered by Poland, arrived in Ukraine.
Poland had recently attracted negative attention in the European Union because, contrary to its promise, it continued to import considerable quantities of crude oil from Russia via the northern route of the Druzhba pipeline. The EU Commission had complained about this as a violation last week, as reported by the FAZ. Since then it has come back to it in two other meetings, but Warsaw was not ready to back down.
Poland is sealing itself off against Belarus
The government-critical Polish portal Oko.press speculated that the oil blockade would make it easier for PKN Orlen to get out of the last supply contract with the Russian company Tatneft, which actually runs until 2024. Perhaps Moscow also wants to test Poland’s resilience or drive up the price of oil on the world market by reducing production. Poland used Russian oil until recently because the EU sanctions imposed because of the war only applied to oil delivered by sea, but not to oil from pipelines. The refinery in Schwedt, Brandenburg, which was previously supplied via the Polish pipeline, has been supplied via the Baltic Sea ports of Rostock and Gdansk since January.
At the same time, Poland is sealing itself off more strongly from Russia and Belarus at its land borders. The army leadership announced on Thursday that an “engineering expansion” was underway there and showed pictures of armored hedgehogs and other roadblocks. As early as February 9, Warsaw had closed one of the border crossings to Belarus until further notice “in the interests of state security”. This has been widely interpreted as a response to the political trial of a Polish media correspondent in Belarus, Andrzej Poczobut; he had been sentenced to eight years in prison.
After that, Belarus and Poland imposed further measures in the area of truck traffic of the respective neighboring country. An official Polish portal in its “forecasts” for crossing the border for the only crossing to Belarus open to trucks on Sunday indicated a waiting time of 67 hours.