Democracy Digest: Gas, Guns and Graft

Those earlier arguments, based on Prague's plan to play a major role in distributing gas from Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline, derailed the project to build the Stork II gas link between the two countries in 2020. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala travelled to Warsaw on Friday to try to resurrect the Stork II pipeline, which is key for landlocked Czechia if it is going to get anywhere close to dumping Russian supplies.

Prague was already planning to try to tap into liquefied natural (LNG) supplies arriving on the Baltic coast of Poland or Germany before the invasion. Stork II - which missed out on EU funding when the project was snuffed out - would be a significant step towards that goal. And the nature of pipelines is to cement friendly relations.

"There are a number of projects that have a chance to move Czech-Polish relations to an even higher level and at the same time ensure a secure energy supply for the Czech Republic," Fiala said ahead of his trip.

Poland has been driving a strategy to wean itself off Russian energy for some time, building LNG capacity and a pipeline to Norwegian gas fields. It plans to become independent of Russian gas by the end of this year, when its current contract with Gazprom expires.

It was an easy decision by Russia, therefore, to cut gas supplies to Poland on Tuesday to punish it for its support for Ukraine.

"The Russian Federation is aggravating the situation and breaking the existing treaties. This is further proof that we must gradually get rid of our dependence on Russian fossil fuels," Fiala noted, as he welcomed a visit from Poland's President Andrzej Duda earlier in the week.

Prague is reportedly already negotiating the resumption of Stork II with the European Commission.

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