Russia Energy Weapon ‘Nonsense,’ Medvedev Tells Poles

President Dmitry Medvedev urged Poland to open its energy industry to Russian investment, saying claims Russia uses its power as a natural-gas and oil exporter to achieve political aims are unfounded.

“There is an opinion that practically all Russian energy projects are politicized, that Russia’s wish is to turn Europe into an energy junkie for political gain,” he said at a press conference in Warsaw today with his Polish counterpart, Bronislaw Komorowski. “We think that’s absolute nonsense.”

Poland imports two-thirds of its gas from Russia, and the two countries completed an agreement in October that will increase deliveries by as much as 38 percent. Russian companies may be interested in “a range of big energy projects” as Poland sells state assets, Medvedev said today.

Medvedev, 45, met with 58-year-old Komorowski in Warsaw to discuss topics ranging from energy cooperation and sea transport to Baltic Sea pollution and an investigation into the plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others on Russian territory earlier this year. It is the first official visit of a Russian head of state to Poland since January 2002.

Russian companies such as OAO Gazprom’s oil arm and OAO Rosneft are interested in acquiring the 53 percent stake Poland is selling in Grupa Lotos SA, the country’s second-biggest refiner, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said today in Warsaw.

No ‘Discrimination’

“It’s politically very important to signal that our companies are ready to come and at least to hear from Poland that there won’t be any discrimination in decision-making,” Shmatko said.

Poland has been suspicious of Russian intentions following more than four decades of Soviet rule after World War II. Relations remained strained after Poland’s Solidarity movement toppled the communist regime in 1989 and Poland became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization 10 years later.

“It’s an ideal moment to talk about concrete issues,” Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said after a late-afternoon meeting with the Russian president.

Medvedev today said he hoped that Poland would become “more actively involved” in Russian conversations with NATO and the European Union and could help to resolve “various issues” between Russia and the two international institutions. The Russian president said last month at a meeting with NATO leaders that Russia should be accepted as “an equal” in talks on a missile defense system.

Missile Shield

U.S. President Barack Obama in September 2009 canceled plans by former President George W. Bush to locate parts of a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic in favor of a solution closer to Russian proposals for a joint system. Medvedev has said a new arms race could break out within the next decade unless Russia reaches an agreement with the U.S. and its allies on a joint missile-defense shield.

“Poland believes that NATO should take a decision that will primarily safeguard the security of NATO members,” Komorowski said today. The alliance should “also seek solutions to threats that could affect other countries such as Russia,” he said.

The Russian president will travel to Brussels tomorrow to complete an agreement with the EU on its 17-year bid to become a member of the World Trade Organization. Poland “looks favorably” on Russia’s WTO entry as an extension of free-market safeguards and principles, Komorowski said.

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