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Jun 12, 2024

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Latest News Bytes From Poland

Compiled by Robert Strybel
Warsaw Correspondent

Kremlin implicates Poland in alleged pipeline sabotage
Russian propagandists initially pointed at Poland, the US and Ukraine in connection with gas leaks in the Russian-owned Nord Stream gas pipelines which displayed massive bubbling at the water’s surface. The leaks appeared off Danish-owned Bornholm Island some 180 miles from Poland’s Baltic coast. Russia was widely suspected of masterminding the incident as part of its hybrid war on the West. But, in a bid to implicate the United States, former Polish foreign minister Radosław Sikorski, an adamant foe of Poland’s pro-American government, tweeted:” Thank you, USA.”  Russian Navy support ships were spotted in the vicinity of the gas leaks, European security officials said. After years of accepting the Russo-German Nord Stream project, the EU finally began echoing Poland’s longstanding conviction that Moscow was using the pipelines to increase Europe’s dependence on its energy supplies.

US provides more aid to Poland amid Russian nuclear threats
Amid the Kremlin’s escalated nuclear threats, Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory and the mysterious sabotage of Russian gas pipelines in the Baltic, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki assured that that” NATO is demonstrating its unity – both financially and militarily.” He stressed that both Poland and the United States have shown the United Nations their commitment to a strong” eastern flank.” Warsaw’s US Embassy meanwhile communicated that the US Congress had confirmed nearly $289 million in additional funding for Poland from its Foreign Military Financing budget. That is in addition to the $27.2 billion which Poland is committed to spending on defense in 2023.

Response to Russian nuclear strike should be devastating – Rau
Asked whether NATO should respond militarily if Russia deploys nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Poland’s top diplomat Zbigniew Rau replied: “To the best of our knowledge, Putin is threatening to use tactical nuclear weapons on Ukrainian soil, not to attack NATO, which means that NATO should respond in a conventional way,” Poland’s PAP news agency reported. Appearing on Meet the Press, Rau added:” That response should be devastating. And I suppose this is the clear message that the NATO alliance is sending to Russia right now.” Ukraine’s recent battlefield successes in retaking a number of Russian-held areas have led to a resurgence of nuclear and World War III threats by Putin and his stooges. Knowing that he had earned a” boy that cried wolf” reputation, this time he added:” And I’m not bluffing.”

Pelosi admires Poland’s stand on Russo-Ukrainian conflict
During his recent visit to Washington, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who expressed admiration for Poland’s” decisive stand” in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. He added that they both agreed that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization of 300,000 additional troops for the invasion of Ukraine “may be a turning point for Russian society and Russian politics in general.” Thousands of young Russian men called up under the mobilization have been fleeing their country in droves, and anti-war demonstrations have been reported in different Russian cities.. The talks also focused on Poland’s energy security, and Pelosi expressed “appreciation for our efforts to achieve independence from Russian supplies.” Also discussed was whether Europe’s impending problems with heating and energy supplies this coming winter would not pressure Kyiv into premature and hasty and unfavorable negotiations with Moscow.

New shipping canal ends Poland’s reliance on Russia
A new shipping canal has turned the northern city of Elbląg into a full-fledged seaport by creating a direct outlet to the Baltic Sea. Previously, the only outlet to the sea had been on Russia’s side of the shared Vistula Lagoon and Polish ships had to get Russian permission to sail through it. Completed in less than three years, the 12-mile-long waterway cuts through the Vistula Spit, a thin strip of land separating Poland from the sea. The project was opposed over supposedly environmental concerns by the EU and Poland’s self-declared” total opposition.” Moscow was against it claiming it would give NATO battleships access to Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave. At the waterway’s inauguration, Polish President Andrzej Duda said it would” strengthen Poland’s sovereignty and enhance its independence and freedom.”

Baltic Pipe frees Poland of dependence on Russian-supplied gas
Poland’s top leaders were on hand to help inaugurate the country’s new undersea gas pipeline pumping natural gas in from Norway via Denmark. Known as Baltic Pipe, the project was launched to protect Poland from the kind of energy blackmail for which Russia has been known.” Today we are opening a gas pipeline that has been a Polish dream for decades as we strive to be independent of gas supplies from Russia,” President Andrzej Duda said.   “This is a great day for Poland, for Denmark, for Norway, for the entire European Union; it is a great day for our part of Europe to build security and peace and to strengthen sovereignty,”  he added.

Poland’s power/heating systems braced for harsh winter ahead
To avoid the possible outages, insufficient heating and inability to cook meals that many Europeans fear this coming winter, Poland has for years taken major steps to increase its self-reliance. In addition to the recently launched Baltic Pipe pipeline pumping gas to Poland from Scandinavia, Warsaw has been supplementing its gas reserves through its LNG terminal in the Baltic port of Świnoujście and its own resources. It has also been stockpiling coal imports and reviving extraction in previously closed colliery shafts. The government claims the country is fully prepared for winter, while the opposition is sowing panic, alleging that Poles will be shuddering in under-heated homes and grappling with power outages. A lot depends on the harshness of winter 2022-2023.

Poland deserves Nobel Peace Prize for Ukraine aid — US Ambassador
The US ambassador to Warsaw Mark Brzeziński has said Poland should receive the Nobel Peace Prize for its support for Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion. Over 6.5 million Ukrainians have crossed into Poland since the start of the war in February. Once on Polish soil, they were eligible for emergency accommodation, food and healthcare. Poles from all over the country arrived at the border to drive them to wherever they wanted to go, and many put Ukrainian refugee families up in their own homes. Besides the humanitarian aid, Poland has been at the forefront of providing the weaponry needed to defend against Russian aggression. The current US Ambassador to Poland is the son of the well-known late sovietologist Zbigniew Brzeziński who had served as President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser.

Émigré presidents’ remains returned to Poland for re-buria
The mortal remains of Władysław Raczkiewicz (Poland’s president-in-exile in 1939-1947), August Zaleski (1947-1972), and Stanisław Ostrowski (1972-1979), have returned to Poland for interment in Warsaw. They all had died while abroad and were buried at the Polish Airmen’s Cemetery in Newark, England. Their re-interment has been set for November 12, the day after Polish Independence Day, at Warsaw’s Temple of Divine Providence, a national, religious-patriotic pantheon of outstanding Poles. Already interred there is Stanisław Kaczorowski,  the president-in-exile who lived to transfer pre-war Poland’s insignias of national authority to Poland after it dumped communism in 1989.

Pink Floyd’s co-founder forced to cancel Polish concerts
Roger Waters, a co-founder of the Pink Floyd rock group, has canceled concerts planned in Poland after triggering widespread outrage over his stance on Russia’s war on Ukraine. An official with Kraków’s Tauron Arena, where Waters was scheduled to perform two concerts in April 2023, said they would no longer take place. This past September, Waters had written an open letter to Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska in which he parroted the Kremlin narration alleging that” extreme nationalists had set Ukraine on the path to this disastrous war.” He also criticized the West, Washington in particular, for helping Ukraine defend itself against Putin’s aggression by supplying weaponry.

European court exonerates Polish pop star of anti-Biblical hate speech
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), based in Strasbourg, France, has overturned a Warsaw court’s verdict which a decade ago convicted Polish pop star Dorota Rabczewska of anti-religious hate speech.  It said her statements were protected by her right to free speech and ordered Poland to pay her €10,000 ($9,634) in damages. Rabczewska, whose stage name is Doda, triggered outrage in the Catholic community when she said in an interview that the Holy Bible had been written by” someone wasted by wine and the herbs he’d been smoking,” According to Article 196 of Poland’s Penal Code, offending religious sentiments or publicly insulting an object of religious worship is punishable by a fine or up to two years in prison.