VILNIUS (Reuters) – Lithuania will no longer import Russian gas to meet its domestic needs, becoming the first country in Europe to have secured its independence from Russian supplies, the country’s energy ministry said on Saturday.
All natural gas for Lithuanian domestic consumption will be imported via the liquified natural gas (LNG) import terminal in the port of Klaipeda, the ministry said in a statement.
“From this month on – no more Russian gas in Lithuania,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda tweeted on Saturday, saying the country is breaking “energy ties with the aggressor”.
“If we can do it, the rest of Europe can do it too,” he added
Lithuania previously announced it would not allow any Russian LNG imports.
The Klaipeda LNG terminal, called Independence, was inaugurated in 2014 to end a Russian gas supply monopoly which then-president Dalia Grybauskaite called an “existential threat” to the country.
Lithuania is however not ending the transit of Russian gas to the Kaliningrad exclave. Lithuania’s gas grid website showed on Saturday evening roughly the same amount of gas entering from Belarus as was being exported to Kaliningrad.
The ministry also noted the move away from Russian supplies meant the country was insulated from a recent demand from Russia to pay for gas in roubles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is demanding foreign buyers pay for Russian gas in the Russian currency from Friday, or face having their supplies cut, a move European capitals have rejected and which Germany said amounted to “blackmail”.
“Under the circumstances, Russia’s demand to pay for the gas in roubles becomes meaningless, because Lithuania is no longer ordering gas and does not expect any further payments”, the energy ministry said in the statement.
(Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; Editing by David Holmes)