The two neighbors – whose current border line was set during the division of Poland after World War II – are clashing over the long-held right of Belarus to send oil supplies through Polish territory to Russia, which Belarus relies on for roughly 80 percent of its crude oil imports.
Poland wants the border move stopped, but has not spoken out against Belarus using the pipeline infrastructure it has already built and opened. “Poland opposes Belarus’s unilateral use of pipeline infrastructure that has already been built and operated in Poland,” Poland’s Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said.
On Monday, the day the conflict began, Poland announced a 1.5 billion euro ($1.6 billion) investment package for its defense sector to secure the country’s borders.
The pipeline also carries gas, which is owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom.
“We hope Belarus will stick to all rules and not introduce any tensions for economic reasons or get back into conflicts with the rest of the European Union,” Macierewicz said, according to the Polish media outlet Gazeta Wyborcza.
The pipeline is a pillar of Belarus’s economy, and contributes roughly 1.5 percent of the nation’s GDP. According to the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita, Belarus imports most of its oil and gas from Russia, but also from western Europe and the Middle East.
The Polish position is unlikely to be borne out in practice. Officials in Belarus are widely believed to be sympathetic to Russia, their political ally. And Poland has very close relations with both Washington and the West, and both have recently become the targets of some of Russia’s most malicious cyberattacks. If they went after Russia’s Western neighbor and did to Poland what the Kremlin is doing to, say, Germany, it would likely prompt an unpredictable response from Berlin.
Read the full story at The Atlantic.
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