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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Thursday, 20.06.2019, 10:24

Russia sends gas transit message to Lithuania, Belarus with new LNG terminal, expert says

BC, Vilnius, 08.01.2019.Print version
By launching a liquefied natural gas terminal in Kaliningrad, Russia is sending a message to Lithuania and Belarus that it might cut or stop gas transit via these countries altogether, says Ramunas Vilpisauskas, director of the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University, reported LETA/BNS.

According to the professor, such steps might be determined by Moscow's concern over energy security, as well as tactics related to talks on energy policy.

"Russian officials have many times expressed their concern that Lithuania might use its transit position to restrict natural gas and electricity transit to Kaliningrad as a geopolitical tool," Vilpisauskas told. "We can only guess how much of it is genuine concern and how much of it is part of tactical negotiation argument amid the ongoing energy policy discussion."

In his words, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Gazprom executives' Tuesday statement are a signal for Lithuania and Belarus.

"It might be so that the Russian leadership wants to send a signal to Belarus and the Baltic states about its readiness to reduce its dependency on transit," Vilpisauskas said. "The interesting thing is that this move recognizes the potential of LNG use after previously Russian representatives claimed that gas transported via pipes is undoubtedly more competitive than LNG."

Earlier in the day, Russia launched the LNG terminal in Kaliningrad at a ceremony also attended by Putin.

Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller said the new terminal has the capacity of fully satisfying the region's gas needs. Russia temporarily restricted gas transit via Lithuania during the new LNG terminal's test trial.

Initially, Russian media interpreted the Gazprom boss's statements as the announcement of gas transit discontinuation but the reports were later clarified.

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