Schröder pipeline deal angers Poles

The €4bn (£2.7bn) deal gives the go-ahead for a pipeline to be constructed under the Baltic Sea between the Russian port of Wyborg and the German city of Greifswald. It willcome on stream in 2010, providing vast supplies of gas to western Europe.

The Chancellor and the Russian President concluded the agreement at a ceremony in Berlin yesterday that was widely seen as an attempt to boost Mr Schröder's chances in the election on 18 September.

The project was criticised by Alexander Kwasniewski, the Polish President, who insisted it had been approved without consulting Poland or the EU. "It is not a good situation if an important country like Germany conducts such a policy over our heads and over EU heads," he said.

Wolfgang Schäuble, the foreign affairs spokesman of Germany's opposition Christian Democrats, said it was "absurd" to reach a unilateral agreement with Russia without consulting other EU partners.Polish newspapers derided the deal as the "Schröder-Putin Pact". Relations between Warsaw and Moscow have sunk to a new low following a series of attacks on diplomats and their families in both capitals.

Poland had hoped the pipeline would be built overland through the Baltic states and Poland. It receives considerable sums from Russia's Gazprom for allowing its pipelines to cross Polish territory on their way west.

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