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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2005, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
Baltic deal worries Polish press
Vladimir Putin and Gerhard Schroeder
Putin and Schroeder finalised the deal in a meeting on Thursday

Poland's press reflects the country's concern over the Russian-German deal to build a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, bypassing Poland.

The Russian press, on the other hand, defends the project.

Poland's Zycie Warszawy believes the pipeline is "dangerous for our energy security", in that the country will "remain at the Kremlin's mercy".

"The construction of the Baltic seabed pipeline will give Russia access to new markets.

Russia may use the new pipeline as a tool for political blackmail by threatening to turn off or limit the supplies," the paper says.

Poland, like much of western Europe, depends heavily on Russia for its oil and gas supplies.

Geopolitics

Another Polish paper, Gazeta Wyborcza, is also suspicious, and accuses Russia of wanting the "economically questionable" project for political reasons.

"After all, Moscow does not conceal that it wants to use its natural resources for geopolitical purposes," it says, adding that "few in Russia doubt gas supplies via a seabed pipeline will be more expensive than across land."

Comment in the Russian papers appears to bear out this view, with Moskovsky Komsomolets justifying the pipeline as a way to reduce Russia's dependence on the so-called transit countries.

"Ukraine, Belarus and Poland will cease to be exclusive operators of gas transit and, consequently, will not be able even theoretically to resort to 'transit blackmail' in order to secure their interests in relations with Russia or Europe," the paper says.

"It is no accident," it adds, "that people in Warsaw, Kiev and Minsk are referring to the project as a 'Putin-Schroeder pact'" - a reference to the 1940 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact dividing up Poland and the Baltic states between the Soviet Union and Germany.

Vremya Novostei agrees with this analysis, saying the project serves both German and Russian interests.

"'Direct delivery' of gas from Russia to Germany will help avoid various political and economic risks connected with transit through Ukraine, Poland and adjacent Baltic states," it comments.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.




SEE ALSO:
Russia and Germany sign gas deal
08 Sep 05 |  Business


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