Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Baltic EU member states have stopped importing Russian natural gas and called on their counterparts to follow suit.
While EU leaders pledged to impose more sanctions against Russia over reports of atrocities in the Kiev region, they are unlikely to agree on the proposed embargo, according to France24 reporting on Tuesday.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė announced on Twitter on Sunday that “from now on, Lithuania won’t be consuming a cubic cm of toxic Russian gas.”
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda noted “years ago, my country made decisions that today allow us with no pain to break energy ties with the aggressor,” and added “if we can do it, the rest of Europe can do it too!”
Lithuania depended on Russia for almost all of its natural gas imports in 2015, but started lowering its dependency in 2014 with the launch of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Klaipėda.
Žygimantas Mauricas, chief economist at the Luminor Lietuva financial institute, pointed out that Lithuania realized “long ago that to be reliant on one source, namely Gazprom, was too dangerous for us.”
He noted that the LNG terminal in Klaipėda was an “insurance policy” of sorts and added that the investment has been very successful.
“Not only have we discontinued paying Russia… now we also sell gas to our neighbours Latvia and Estonia; and from next month, we’ll be selling to Poland too,” he stressed.
Mauricas added that Latvia recently took control of its natural gas infrastructure, which was previously held by Gazprom, pointing out that the move left Latvia with enough reserves for the year and allows the country to stop importing Russian gas.
Energy as leverage
“The Baltic states realised early on that Russia was using energy as a political tool, we didn’t want to be pushed into a corner,” he pointed out and reminded that energy prices started to rise long before the start of the war in Ukraine.
“Russia started the energy war last summer, I’m amazed how the leaders of Western Europe failed to see this earlier,” Mauricas concluded.
Baltic EU member states have been vocal critics of the bloc’s dependence on Russian energy imports, noting that the EU depends on Moscow to cover roughly 40% of its natural gas needs.
This dependence is pronounced in Germany, which is leading the EU push against the proposed embargo.