How will the Baltic states manage without Russian gas?

The Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) stopped importing Russian natural gas what “Not shipped to Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania since April 1”, says Uldis Bariss, head of the Latvian storage company Conexus Baltic Grid. The Baltic countries are now supplied by gas reserves stored underground in Latvia.

My country has made choices that allow us today to easily sever energy ties with the aggressor
Gitanas Nauseda, President of Lithuania

A decision made as Russia and Western countries are at loggerheads over the gas issue following international sanctions against Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine.

(Re)see: What alternative to Russian gas?

Moscow is now demanding that “unfriendly” countries pay their energy bills in rubles from accounts in Russia, under penalty of disrupting their gas supplies.

“My country made decisions years ago that allow us today to easily sever the energy links with the aggressor”greeted Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda on Twitter.

connection policy

How did Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania manage to stop using Russian gas? For Thierry Bros, energy expert and professor at Sciences Po, this success was built over quite a long time: “In 2014 they built a floating regasification terminal called ‘Independence’. It was therefore not a completely neutral approach. They had the idea of ​​getting out of this independence with Gazprom,” the Russian gas giant.

They had really integrated the concept of security of supply
Thierry Bros, a professor at Sciences Po

The Baltic countries also inherited “a large gas storage facility” located in Lithuania “which belonged to Gazprom and covers about 50% of the annual needs of the three countries”.

An extensive liaison policy has also been put in place with support from the European Commission. The Baltic countries “Investments in regasification terminals, interconnectors with Poland, with Finland… They had really integrated the concept of security of supply,” sums up Thierry Bros.

Strong signal to the Europeans

The question of Russian gas is a particular point of tension in the war in Ukraine. The Baltic countries, long fearing the Russian threat, have made a powerful decision by halting imports of Russian gas. The US also banned imports of Russian oil and gas after invading Ukraine, but not the EU, which supplied about 40% from Russia in 2021.

(Re)read: Russian gas: Why Europe has no choice but an embargo

In his tweet, the Lithuanian President affirmed “If we can do it, so can the rest of Europe! » An appeal to the European Union and especially to the Germans, according to Thierry Bros: “They want to send a signal to immovable Germany that it is time to move! »

Particularly dependent on Russian gas, Germany today does not have the same leeway as the Baltic states. Without a regasification terminal and with Gazprom storage facilities, Berlin has no alternative to Russian gas.

“The question is: Doesn’t it justify not standing up for Ukrainians today if you haven’t done the work beforehand, haven’t invested in energy security in the last 15 years? » asks Thierry Bros. On the Baltic side, the answer is quite clear: no.

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