Russia says Poland's Nord Stream 2 fine is a move to please U.S

·2 min read
Nord Stream 2 land fall facility in Lubmin
Nord Stream 2 land fall facility in Lubmin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Thursday that a decision by Poland to impose a hefty fine on Gazprom <GAZP.MM> for its part in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project was taken to please Washington, Interfax news agency reported.

Poland on Wednesday fined the Russian gas giant more than 29 billion zlotys ($7.6 billion) for building the pipeline without Warsaw's approval.

Russia's energy projects have become increasingly politicised since Moscow's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Russia accounts for around a third of natural gas supply to Europe.

The criticism against the ongoing Nord Stream 2 project, which critics say will increase Europe's reliance on Russian gas, has intensified following the alleged poisoning of a prominent Kremlin critic in August.

A spokeswoman for Russia's Foreign Ministry said the decision to fine Gazprom was driven by an intention to "implement the idea of setting up a gas hub for re-sale of American gas to eastern European countries", in order "to please Washington".

The United States has raised its exports of seaborne liquefied natural gas to Europe in recent years.

The spokeswoman also said the fine undermined European energy security, Interfax reported.

Poland's government and foreign ministry were not immediately available for comment. The Polish anti-monopoly office said it rejected any attempts to discredit it.

"The procedure was carried out in a meticulous and thorough manner...We operate fully independently, on the basis of the law and within the law, ensuring fair competition," the office said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters.

It added that its decision to fine Gazprom "was based on evidence confirming that the entrepreneurs deliberately violated the anti-monopoly law applicable in Poland".

Construction of the 1,230-kilometre Nord Stream 2 pipeline is complete barring a roughly 120 km final stretch in Danish waters.

Work stopped in December after pipe-laying company Swiss-Dutch Allseas suspended operations because of U.S. sanctions targeting companies providing vessels.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Polina Ivanova in Moscow, Agnieszka Barteczko in Warsaw; Editing by Toby Chopra, Jan Harvey and Alex Richardson)