The Baltic states – Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania – have stopped importing natural gas from neighboring Russia since Saturday. In this way, they no longer contribute financially to the Russian military invasion of Ukraine. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nosida announced on Twitter on Saturday: “Years ago, my country made decisions that allow us today to cut economic ties with the aggressor painlessly. If we can do this, the rest of the European Union can too.
In 2015, Lithuania was still completely dependent on Russia for its natural gas, but already in 2009 decided to get its gas from elsewhere. Crucial to this was the construction of a liquid gas storage facility in the coastal city of Klaipeda. It’s ready now. Liquefied gas, LNG, can be transported by ship. Another part of the gas supply to the Baltic states comes from underground natural gas reserves in Latvia.
The challenge that Lithuanian Prime Minister Noseda poses to the rest of the European Union is not an issue that can be easily settled in a few days, but it is taken very seriously. On March 30, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Moriwicki had already announced that his country would stop importing Russian fuel by the end of 2022. Poland depends on fossil fuels from Russia for more than half of its energy. It wants to successively dispose of Russian coal, oil and natural gas. This first goal should be achieved by next month.
‘If we can get out of Russia without gas, so can the rest of the EU’
President of Lithuania
Belgium also has a significant LNG storage capacity at the port of Zeebrugge. A large shipment of gas was delivered from Russia at the end of last week. CEO Pascal de Buck of Fluxys, the Belgian gas network operator whose municipalities together with the federal government investment firm own 80 per cent, said last weekend in Standard That he will honor existing contracts with Russian suppliers, as long as there is no political decision not to. “If Europe decides to impose sanctions on the transport of LNG from Russia, we will respect this decision.”
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After some Russian forces withdrew from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, last weekend photos of civilians killed, some of them handcuffed, spread on the street. As a result, some EU member states are pushing for tougher sanctions. Europe can only tighten economic sanctions against Russia if the member states decide to do so unanimously. Germany in particular, which is heavily dependent on Russia for its energy supplies, does not want to target the Russian energy sector or shipping.
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