C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 WARSAW 000180
STATE FOR EUR A/S DFRIED, DAS MPEKALA, DAS MBRYZA
EUR/NCE FOR DKOSTELANCIK, MSESSUMS
EB/ESC FOR SGALLOGLY, RGARVERICK
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/02/2016
TAGS: ENRG ECON PINR PREL UP RS PO AU EU CZ
SUBJECT: POLAND'S COMMENTS ON RUSSIA-UKRAINE GAS
REF: STATE 17066
Classified By: Economic Counselor Ricard Rorvig, reasons 1.4(b),(d)
Â¶1. (U) This cable contains an action request - see para 2.
Summary and Action Request
Â¶2. (C) Poland's Ministry of Economy and MFA expressed
support for the U.S. proposal on an approach to Ukraine but
seek clarification on several questions. Poland requests
further information, (through intelligence channels), on U.S.
concerns about RUE. The GOP also requests information on the
timing and aims of the approach, cautioning that any approach
before the upcoming elections could adversely affect the
Yushenko government. The GOP also requested a definition of
what the U.S. means by support for the government of Ukraine,
noting that offering only political support would not be
effective. The Poles are keen to work closely with us on
this issue and want to stay in close touch. The MFA asked to
be advised of reactions in European capitals to our demarche.
Ministry of Energy - Political Support Insufficient
Â¶3. (C) Minister of Economy Deputy Minister Piotr Naimski
told visiting EUR/ERA Director Peter Chase, DCM and Econoff
that RosUkrenergo (RUE) supplies part of Poland's gas needs,
thus Poland is in a dangerous position when discussing
potential Russian gas cutoffs to Ukraine. Responding to the
demarche, Naimski asked if there is a joint demarche on the
GOU, at what level it would be, and what the timing would be.
He said that political support of the EU and U.S. is
important but not sufficient in assisting Ukraine to stand up
to Russian pressure. Either the U.S. and/or EU should be
forthcoming with either financial support for Ukraine or that
EU Member States should be willing to take lower gas
deliveries from pipelines transiting Ukraine so that Ukraine
can stand up to Russian pressure. Putting money into Russian
coffers via financial support to Kiev under Russian pressure
is not optimal. Naimski said the ideal solution for Ukraine
would be an alternative source of gas, but that is
What the EU Might or Might Not Do
Â¶4. (C) Naimski agrees that Ukraine should pay a market
price for gas, noting that Poland and other Western European
countries do so. However, he believes there should be a
transition to market prices. Other countries could assist
Ukraine by taking lower deliveries by utilizing their stored
gas or tapping alternative sources of supply from North
Africa and Norway. He thinks we need to persuade the EU to
make a strong statement if there is another gas shutoff,
although the Commission would be unlikely to make such a
statement as it is too conservative and not political.
Austria, as the Presidency, could make a statement but would
first have to consult with other Member States. If the EU
acts in the Ukrainian gas crisis it would be the first time
that the EU acted on an energy supply issue outside it's
Put Pressure Back on the Russians
Â¶5. (C) Naimski said that it appears that Russia is trying
to put the pressue on Ukraine in Western Europe by blaiming
Ukraine for stealing gas. He'd like us to develop a joint
strategy that puts the pressure back on Russia to supply gas.
He thinks that it comes down to a political decision in
Berlin, Paris, and Rome to confront Putin although he is
skeptical of this. Austria will also need to be involved as
it receives most of its gas from Russia. In Naimski's
opinion, the major EU Member States want to avoid a crisis
atmosphere and a confrontation with Russia. The DCM
recommended that the Polish Ambassador in Kiev coordinate
with Ambassador Herbst on the gas issue.
Â¶6. (C) On February 3, MFA North America's desk Director
Ambassador Henryk Szlajfer called in DCM to discuss the
demarche, stating that the MFA senior leadership had just
finished discussing the issue and had a number of questions
for the U.S. DCM and Amb. Szlajfer agreed that the gas
crisis appears to be over as Ukraine reports that all
contracts were signed on February 2. Nevertheless, Poland
would like to continue to work with the U.S. on energy
security and the Ukrainian gas situation. Szlajfer requested
more information, if necessary through intelligence channels,
on any new information on RUE that may have prompted our
demarche to EU capitals now. He noted that Polish and U.S.
services had long known that individuals associated with RUE
had criminal ties, and questioned what new information led to
the increased concern in the U.S.
What is the Timing and Aims of Joint Approach?
Â¶7. (C) Szlajfer asked how quickly the U.S. planned to
approach the GOU on the contract, and what the aim of the
demarche might be. Szlajfer cautioned that any joint
approach now was likely to have political implications in the
run-up to Ukraine's March elections. Even a simple request
for further information on the contract and the actual
ownership of RUE could lead to the perception in Ukraine that
friendly governments are criticizing Yushenko's leadership in
the critical pre-election period. It would not be possible
to keep an approach a secret. Szlajfer suggested that any
request be done very carefully, and that the timing, whether
pre or post-election be carefully considered in view of the
upcoming elections. DCM commented that a conversation
between the Polish Ambassador in Kiew and the U.S. Ambassador
would be valuable on these issues.
What is Support?
Â¶8. (C) The MFA would also like a definition of what the
U.S. means when it requests that Poland "consider registering
your support for Ukraine should it decide to renounce this
deal,..." and what support the U.S. might offer in such an
eventuality. The DCM emphasized that at this point the U.S.
was only requesting that Poland make the same approach to
Ukraine, although the Ukrainians would no doubt want to
discuss possible support. Szlajfer stressed that a
definition of what support Ukraine might expect should be
discussed now, if there is to be any chance for the contract
to be cancelled. He reiterated Naimski's point that support
must go beyond political support and be tangible in order to
assist the GOU in what otherwise would be a very difficult
situation. Finally, Szlajfer requested that the U.S. keep
the GOP fully informed of responses from other EU capitals.
Note and Comment
Â¶9. (C) During the February 2 meeting, Naimski reported to
us that state gas company PGNiG received a call that day from
the Ukrainian gas operator warning them that the gas supply
from RosUkrEnergo (RUE) would be cut on February 4. Poland
normally receives 12.6 mcm/day and would receive only 6.3
mcm/day. Naimski believed such a cut was related to a
break-down of discussions between the governments of the
Ukraine and Russia on gas supply. Naimski was extremely
concerned about a potential cut-off and did not realize that
Ukraine had signed the agreement with RUE earlier in the day.
Subsequent reports from the U.S. and the press that the
agreements were signed have not diminished, however, Poland's
interest in continuing a dialogue on energy security with the
U.S. and Ukraine.