Poland's Leader Seeks To Assure Public Of Energy Security

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — At a time of rising discontent with high inflation and shortages of coal for heating, Poland’s prime minister sought to reassure the public Friday that sufficient supplies of natural gas and coal are being assembled.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki attributed the problems to Russia's nearly five-month war in Ukraine, saying the country's main ruling party, Law and Justice, “will do everything to adjust the energy strategy to the times of war. It's already adjusted to the times of war.”

“We will cope with the effects of the war in Ukraine; we will cope with inflation,” Morawiecki said, speaking in Parliament.

The matter is of crucial significance to the right-wing governing coalition led by Law and Justice. As public discontent rises, opinion polls suggest it could lose a parliamentary majority in an election next year and with it, the ability to implement its policies.

Poland's year-on-year inflation rate hit 15.5% in June, the highest in 25 years, while prices on gas and especially on coal have skyrocketed. The price of quality coal, which millions of households use for heating and Poland had largely obtained from Russia, tripled in recent months as imports were cut amid sanctions on Moscow for its aggression in Ukraine.

The government has introduced lower, regulated prices for households and recently ordered some state energy companies to make urgent purchases of coal for individual users. Most of the coal that Poland produces goes to industry needs.

Morawiecki blamed the higher prices and concerns about winter shortages on Russia and its invasion of neighboring Ukraine, which also borders Poland.

He vowed that gas and coal supplies will be sufficient, saying coal purchases have been made from many countries and that gas storage tanks will be full for winter.

Opposition politicians and some economists criticized his words as being overly optimistic.

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