Sanctions against Russia should be severe, Polish PM tells Bloomberg

Sanctions against Russia should be severe, Polish PM tells Bloomberg Radek Pietruszka/PAP

Russia should face very strong sanctions following the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and Germany should drop support for a controversial Russian gas link, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki told Bloomberg in an interview broadcast on Tuesday.

"The case of Alexei Navalny is a very sad example of how Russia is treating its citizens and opposition leaders and this should be not only condemned but there should be very strong sanctions and interventions following suit," Morawiecki said, talking to Bloomberg the day before on the sidelines of a conference on foreign direct investment in Warsaw.

Asked how he intends to convince Germany to abandon the project of building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Morawiecki referred to statements made by German leaders, including Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and high-ranking CDU politicians Armin Laschet and Friedrich Merz.

"I think that decision-makers will change their decisions. They have finally admitted that this (Nord Stream 2) is a political project, because without political involvement the project would have already been abandoned," Morawiecki said. He believes recent developments in Belarus and the attempt to poison Navalny should be "a final wake-up call for Germany" in terms of this country's and the EU's attitude towards Nord Stream 2.

In Morawiecki's opinion, the Nord Stream 2 project "is very dangerous for Ukraine because they (the Ukrainians) would be completely cut off from transit fees and from their transit capacities". "The Ukrainians have a gas pipeline system that was built to transit gas to Western Europe" and bypassing it would be "a huge blow for them."

He also noted that "for the first time there will be a situation where Russian troops and Russia will be able to march into any territory in the East, because they will no longer be dependent on the gas pipeline system".

The Polish PM also spoke about the economic situation in Poland. In a fragment of the interview posted by Bloomberg on Twitter, Morawiecki said he is not concerned about the weakening of the country's currency. In his view, the Polish zloty may strengthen as the economy recovers from the coronavirus crisis faster than expected.

According to him, the zloty is now in a place which is good for the economy having rebounded from an 11-year-low set during the early stages of the Covid-19 crisis.

"We don't intervene at times like this, if there are 'unexpected developments,' we and our central bank do not rule out interventions. This happened with the weakening of the Polish zloty vis a vis the Swiss franc, which is an important issue in the Polish economy," the Polish prime minister pointed out.

But "we are not concerned by the current level of the zloty. It is good for the stability of our economy, it's good for our export industry, and at the same time it does have the potential to further strengthen," he added.

Morawiecki also noted that according to data from the European Commission and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Poland will have "the softest" recession in the European Union.

"The previous prediction was about 4.6 percent of GDP (recession), and now there are early indications that this result may be better, around 3.5 percent, maybe, minus, unfortunately," he said.