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Merkel utterly humiliated: Polish president rejects meeting German leader on final trip

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Polish president Andzrej Duda has declined to meet Mrs Merkel in Warsaw on Saturday before she steps down. Local news outlets said the decision to humiliate the German leader was due to her unfriendly attitude to Poland’s conservative government. It was also claimed Warsaw made the move in protest against the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

But Mr Duda’s office issued an official excuse, saying he was on a trip to the town of Katowice that day.

Warsaw is one of Nord Stream 2’s most fierce critics, arguing the project will make Europe reliant on Russian gas supplies.

Others say it will hand Moscow leverage over the Continent in future battles over issues such as disputed areas of Ukraine.

Its backers, including Germany’s industrial sector, say the pipeline is vital in protecting German energy security and assisting with the phase out of coal.

But by putting its economic interests first, Berlin has undermined the trust of Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine, according to Liana Fix, of the Koerber Foundation.

Kiev fears that from 2024 Russian state-backed Gazprom will cut gas supplies being transited to Europe via Ukraine.

Hungary has said it will stop using that route from next month, while Poland may cease using it from 2023.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline has been all but completed, and is waiting for the go-ahead from Germany before it starts pumping natural gas into Europe.

The project is expected to double Russia’s gas exporting capabilities via the Baltic Sea to the Continent.

Moscow plans to start gas flows via the pipeline later this year.

But it was reported in Russia that commercial gas will not be pumped until its operators are given the green light from German regulators.

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The approval is expected to take up to four months but will only start when the necessary paperwork is completed.

Foreign Ministry spokewoman Maria Zakharova said Russia hoped for a prompt decision from the German side.

She said: “The timings for the commercial supplies depend on the position of Germany’s regulator.

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“We hope that millions of European consumers will be able to receive the Russian gas in the nearest future via the shortest.”

Earlier this week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would allow “nothing and no one” to stand in the way of Nord Stream 2’s start-up.

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