BERLIN – Lithuania has stopped importing natural gas from Russia since April and will instead be able to rely on deliveries from other countries to meet its energy needs, the country’s president announced. on Saturday, said the move was an example for other European Union members.
Before Russia invaded Ukraine, the EU was looking for ways to reduce Russia’s dependence on fossil fuels, including coal and oil, but especially gas. Nearly 40% of the bloc’s total natural gas comes from Russia. But since Moscow sent tanks to Ukraine on 24 February, member states have been more actively seeking to cut their gas needs.
“If we can do it, the rest of Europe can too,” said Gitanas Nausea, Lithuania’s president. Twitter on Saturday.
While Lithuania is a small country with only 2.8 million inhabitants and its economy is more dependent on trade than on industry, it is the largest economy in the Baltic states and also a member of the region. euro area. So while the loss of Lithuania as a customer is unlikely to significantly harm Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy group, the move has geopolitical implications in setting a precedent for EU.
Katja Yafimava, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, said: “I think it is a symbolic step for Lithuania, which has long tried to pioneer mitigation and has the possibility of eliminating dependence on Russian gas. She added that Germany, France and Italy could not easily make a similar move because they depend on much higher volumes of Russian gas and are tied to long-term contracts.
Lithuania borders the Russian territory of Kaliningrad and was once completely dependent on Russian gas imports – a legacy of the country’s history as part of the former Soviet Union. But the construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal in 2014 allowed it to begin to break free of its dependence on Russia.
Last week, President Vladimir V. Putin threatened to cut off gas supplies to “unfriendly countries,” unless these countries start paying for supplies in rubles. European leaders have rejected the idea, but it remains unclear how to resolve the impasse. Germany and Italy in particular depend heavily on Russian gas, although Germany has recently secured partnerships with the United States and other energy-rich countries.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has called on EU countries to stop buying gas from Russia, go so far as to urge Qatar and other energy producers boosted gas exports to Europe as part of efforts to reduce the continent’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels.
Earlier this year, Lithuania’s Energy Minister said the country could order enough LNG to meet its energy needs. If needed, it can also take delivery of gas through its link with Latvia.
“We are the first EU country among Gazprom’s gas supplying countries to achieve independence from Russian gas supplies and this is the result of a consistent energy policy over the years and decisions made by the Russian Federation. infrastructure decisions in a timely manner,” Dainius Kreivys, the country’s energy minister, said in a statement on Saturday. .