Poland ends Russian oil imports. Shelling continues in Kyiv

Poland ends Russian oil imports. Shelling continues in Kyiv
(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

The latest volleys in the ongoing economic war against Russia have been fired. Poland announced last night that they will be ending all Russian oil imports, but not right away. The Polish Prime Minister said that his country is targeting a complete stoppage of Russian oil flowing into his country by the end of this year. In addition to that, he ordered an immediate halt to all Russian coal imports. He described these steps to reporters as being “the most radical plan among European nations.” But analysts have already pointed out that Poland will be scrambling to find replacement sources for oil, potentially driving up prices in his country when residents are already dealing with steadily rising inflation figures. (Associated Press)

Poland announced steps Wednesday to end all Russian oil imports by the end of 2022, as Germany issued a warning over natural gas supplies and called on consumers to conserve energy in a sign of escalating economic tensions in Europe over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Poland has already largely reduced its dependence on Russian oil, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said.

Morawiecki told a news conference that Poland was launching the most radical plan among European nations to wean off Russian energy sources.

Poland shares a border with both Ukraine and Russian ally Belarus. None of its neighbors to the west and south are oil exporters, so it was only natural that they would be importing Russian oil from the east. Germany’s economy and energy infrastructure were not set up to handle a sudden end to the vast majority of their oil supply, so an immediate cessation of the flow from Russia simply wasn’t an option, no matter how much they wanted to demonstrate solidarity with the west. But if they do manage to establish reliable energy sources from elsewhere, Russia is unlikely to get that trade relationship back even after the war ends.

At the same time, Germany has announced emergency measures, calling on residents to limit their use of natural gas. That’s because they are still importing gas from Russia, but Moscow is demanding to be paid in rubles. Germany is refusing, so they are preparing for the possibility that Putin will turn off the gas supplies. A new natural gas line from Norway is under construction and it’s planned to be completed by the end of this year. This may wind up offering both Poland and Germany a permanent replacement for Russian natural gas, removing yet another future market for Putin’s energy exports.

Turning from the economic war to the actual shooting war, we learned overnight that Putin’s claim to be “pulling back” from Kyiv and western Ukraine to focus on the Donbas region was just more propaganda designed to make his forces look less incompetent. It’s been confirmed that many ground troops have been removed from the region, likely heading to the east by train. But shelling and rocket strikes continued to rain down on the capital through the night. You can see some of that action in a short video posted by Tim McMillan.

As I pointed out on social media this morning, what Putin is doing here is plainly obvious. His ground offensive against Kyiv and other portions of western Ukraine was completely stalled and it was becoming clear that the Russian troops might soon be driven out of much of the territory they had managed to take earlier. That would have been an even greater embarrassment for Putin. So much like a five-year-old who says ‘I never wanted your stupid ball in the first place,’ he’s abandoning his stalled ground attack and consolidating his troops in the east, but still pounding the western cities with aerial attacks.

This is yet another example of a rule that we should all have learned to live by. Every time Putin says something that sounds like he’s making a concession or considering ending hostilities, he’s lying. He only says these things for the benefit of his people back home who are forced to rely on state media for their information. And he clearly doesn’t want them to know how badly his invasion is floundering or the scale of the humanitarian disaster he’s inflicting on Ukrainian civilians.

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