The expansion of Russia’s gas pipeline to Germany under the Baltic Sea, which bypasses a number of east European nations, will allow the Kremlin to use energy as a “political tool,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in Warsaw.
Tillerson, speaking to reporters after meeting with Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Saturday, said Europe should seek to diversify energy supplies. The US saw the contested Nord Stream 2 link as “undermining Europe’s overall energy stability and security,” he said.
Nato member Poland has repeatedly tried to bloc the deal, saying it would leave countries such as itself and Ukraine vulnerable if Russia decided to shut down the gas pipelines running across its territory to western Europe. Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said Poland wanted US help in stopping Nord Stream 2, which is being built by Russian gas giant Gazprom.
“It’s not a helpful piece of infrastructure to support stability in Europe,” Tillerson said. “We will continue to take steps as we can.”
The top American diplomat said his country is ready to help Poland continue to diversify its fuel supplies, including through the sale of US liquefied natural gas, to reduce its dependence on Russia. Tillerson also said the US will maintain support for Polish plans to build a gas-pipeline connection with the North Sea together with Denmark. Additionally, he’s in favour of increasing links in the energy network between the Baltic and Adriatic seas.
Besides joint efforts in the energy industry, Poland’s foreign minister said he was hopeful for more military co-operation with the US, after it installed troops in the former Communist country as part of a plan to better protect Nato’s eastern flank. Czaputowicz said Poland wants to complete negotiations “soon” and sign defence deals with the US, including protracted talks about the delivery of the Patriot missile-defence system as well as Blackhawk helicopters.
Later on Saturday, Tillerson met the ruling Law & Justice party’s leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who holds no official post.
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