Finally, Poland is far too reliant on Russian natural gas and must diversify its energy sources. Poland currently imports 61% of its gas from Gazprom, the giant Russian energy conglomerate. Poland is trying to buy energy from other countries, such as Norway or Germany, but these options are very expensive. A current pipeline project is underway that will connect the Black Sea port of Odessa with the Polish city of Brody, and ultimately reach the city of Gdansk. Historically, however, Poland was able to generate most of its electricity from mining its large coal deposits. One potential alternative is for the government to encourage the redevelopment of Poland’s shrunken domestic coal industry.
Polish-Russian relations have historically been difficult. Poland holds a deep historic mistrust of Russia and is often skeptical of the intentions behind Russia’s foreign policy. Russia can use its monopoly supplier status to put political and economic pressures on Poland. Polish defiance risks placing Poland in the position of Ukraine this past winter, when Moscow abruptly cut off Ukraine’s gas supplies. Polish relations with Russia have been particularly difficult over the past year due to the dispute over a new German-Russian gas pipeline that bypasses Poland (Defense Minister Sikorski recently likened the agreement to the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939), Polish support of the Ukrainian Orange Revolution, and the Russian boycott of Polish meat and produce over certification issues. Moreover, Moscow has voiced its indignation at Polish support of democratic movements in Belarus and the government’s willingness to station a US anti-missile defense system on Polish soil. At the same time, most Polish politicians understand that Poland needs a constructive relationship with Russia.