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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Lithuania Threatens to Halt all Russian Oil and Gas Imports

Lithuania’s president has stated that his country is prepared to cease buying Russian oil and gas, the latest evidence that some EU members are planning to impose harsher sanctions on Moscow as a result of its invasion of Ukraine.

“It might cause certain issues, but they would not be life-threatening,” President Gitanas Nauseda remarked.

In 2019, Russia supplied roughly 63 percent of Lithuania’s oil imports.

After its oil refinery ceased importing Russian crude oil, President Naused declared the figure had dropped.

The United States has imposed a restriction on Russian oil imports. Meanwhile, the UK said that it will phase them out by the end of this year, while the EU aspires to be fossil-fuel-free by 2030.

“Of course, everything depends on time: how long we would need to adjust [to lowering Russian imports],” Lithuanian President Nauseda told the BBC.

“But, to put it another way, we are more prepared than many other EU nations for a decrease in Russian energy resources.”

Late last month, Western nations imposed sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, with the United States banning Russian energy imports and the United Kingdom phasing out Russian oil imports.

The EU, which imports around 40% of its gas from Russia, has stated that it will reduce its reliance on Russian gas by two-thirds within a year.

The president of Lithuania’s warning demonstrates how certain nations are eager to increase economic pressure on Russia.

Orlen Lietuva, the refinery’s owner, said on March 3 that it had reached an agreement with Saudi Aramco for five more tankers of the product to be carried out of the North Sea.

It claimed that this would provide Lithuania, Poland, and the Czech Republic with alternate supplies.

Four days later, the business claimed it is “prepared for any eventuality, including the entire cessation of shipments from the eastern route” due to the situation in Ukraine.

Apart from oil, Lithuania has worked hard over the last decade to lessen its natural gas reliance on Russia, particularly by building its own LNG facility, Independence.

President Nauseda, however, stated that energy independence is still a work in progress.

“We are still tied to the old Soviet Union’s Brell system, and this connection prevents us from switching to various [European] systems [at this time].”

He did say, though, that the process of removing Lithuania from Brell “will be finished in 2025.”

“Right now, we’re going to attempt to speed up this process so we can disconnect faster,” he said.

President Nauseda also recognized that there has been persistent worry, especially from Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, over whether the Baltic states, including Lithuania, may be the next target of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Regrettably, this is correct. Since Putin deemed the dissolution of the Soviet Union to be the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century, he had the Baltic nations in mind, since they were also a constant part of the Soviet Union.

“So, this is a danger.” He stated, “We never had any illusions that we would be forgotten.”

However, he stated that the country’s defense spending, including military equipment, has grown. He also believes in the military alliance of NATO.

“I am confident in Nato’s capacity to function as a collective defense organization,” he added. “I see this solidarity in action as well, with extra deployment and military assets on the ground,” says the author.

He said, “And this is perhaps the finest confirmation for me that Nato is functioning.”

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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