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Ukraine war: Baltic nations first in Europe to cut Russian oil imports, but concerns remain

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 03-04-2022 Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Sohini Goswami, New Delhi
Activists of the environmental organisation Greenpeace paint the words 'Oil fuels war' on the hull of a ship carrying Russian oil near the German island Fehmarn, Germany. (Frank Molter/dpa via AP) © Provided by Hindustan Times Activists of the environmental organisation Greenpeace paint the words 'Oil fuels war' on the hull of a ship carrying Russian oil near the German island Fehmarn, Germany. (Frank Molter/dpa via AP)

Baltic countries, comprising Lativia, Lithuania and Estonia, have said they are no longer importing Russian gas and oil. Lithuania's energy minister Dainius Kreivys said on Saturday the country has become the first in the European Union (EU) to break its dependence on Moscow's gas and oil.

Later, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda took to Twitter to state, “If we can do it, the rest of Europe can do it too!”

Live updates of Russia-Ukraine war

The head of Latvia's natural gas storage operator said none of the three Baltic states were importing Russian gas as of April 2. “Years ago my country made decisions that today allow us with no pain to break energy ties with the aggressor,” Nauseda tweeted.

Lithuanian energy minister Dainius Kreivys said the move is in response to “Russia's energy blackmail in Europe and the war in Ukraine”.

A report by The Associated Press said in 2015, around 100 per cent of Lithuania's gas supplies came from Russian gas imports. However, the situation has since changed substantially following the country building an off-shore LNG import terminal, launched in 2014, in the port city of Klaipeda.

Last year, some 26 per cent of Lithuania's gas supplies were derived from a Russian gas pipeline while 62 per cent came from the domestic Klaipeda terminal. The remaining 12 per cent were imported from a Latvian gas storage.

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On Saturday, the CEO of Conexus Baltic Grid, Uldis Bariss, told Latvian media that the Baltic gas market is currently being served by reserves stored underground in Latvia.

Complete isolation of Russian oil and gas imports may have challenges for the former Soviet countries though as last month Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said that the Klaipeda terminal will not have adequate capacity to offer gas for all the three Baltic countries.

To address this, Estonia has proposed to build a LNG terminal jointly with Latvia, and Nordic neighbour Finland in the Estonian port city of Paldiski - 64km from the capital city of Tallinn.

The Kremlin on Thursday said that European buyers need to have two accounts - one in Euros, and another in Rubles, to make imports on gas and oil from Russia. The move was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin following the slew of sanctions by the West.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has accused Russia of committing “war crimes” after at least 20 bodies were found in Bucha town near the capital city of Kyiv on Saturday. A day later, an Ukrainian official said a mass grave with at least 57 bodies was found in the town.

The incidents have drawn sharp criticism from the US, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the West. US secretary of state Antony Blinken told CNN that the images are a “punch to the gut”, while Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg condemned the civilian killings as “horrific”.

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