Poland arrests Russian ‘spy’, summons envoy
Amid mounting tension with Moscow, Poland’s counterintelligence agency, the ABW, says it has detained a Polish civil servant over suspicion that he collaborated with Russia over Polish attempts to block construction of Russian gas giant Gazprom’s pipeline to Germany.
Separately, Poland and the three Baltic states also summoned Russia’s ambassadors to discuss the attempted murder of a former double agent, Sergei Skripal, in the English city of Salisbury this month.
The European Union’s diplomatic strains with Moscow are strained to an extent not seen in decades.
The ABW’s spokesman Stanislaw Zaryn told the Polish news agency PAP: “Marek W maintained contact with agents from Russia’s special services and sent them information regarding investments important to Poland.”
A court approved his detention for up to three months, said the Internal Security Agency spokesman.
He said the civil servant, who held a position responsible for Polish energy projects, faced up to 10 years in jail if convicted of espionage.
The spokesman added that Marek W, who reportedly worked at the energy ministry, had sent details to Russia concerning the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which Poland opposes.
Marek W “was an official involved in projects of key importance to the Polish energy sector”, Zaryn told Polskie Radio. “He had access to key information on energy projects that the Polish government is conducting … this was very damaging activity.”
Polish state news agency PAP reported that Marek W had been in contact with Russian intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover at Russia’s Warsaw embassy.
The suspected spy was also involved in bids for European Union funding as part of efforts to diversify Poland’s gas supplies and reduce the dependence on Russia, TVP reported.
Poland has repeatedly charged suspected Russian spies since the 2014 seizure of Crimea and eastern Ukraine sent shockwaves around Nato’s eastern fringe.
Poland opposes the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would bypass Poland and deliver Russian gas straight to Germany under the Baltic Sea.
Poland has said the pipeline would strengthen Gazprom’s dominance on the gas market in central and eastern Europe, limit competition and increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.
The three Baltic states and Ukraine, which has repeatedly quarrelled with Russia over its role as a transit state for gas exports, also oppose the deal.
The US State Department also expressed concern that the pipeline would undermine European energy security but has yet to enforce any sanctions on the project.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had no information about the arrest in Poland and could make no comment.
Nord Stream 2 is a major project for Gazprom. Picture credit: YouTube