Lithuania Ceases All Russian Gas Imports

Lithuania has stopped all Russian gas imports, becoming the first country in the European Union to do so.

The country’s gas transmission system has been operating without Russian gas imports since the start of the month, the Lithuanian Energy Ministry stated on April 2.

Minister of Energy Dainius Kreivys said that Lithuania is the first EU country among those supplied by Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom to gain independence from Russian gas supplies. He said the move “is the result of a multi-year coherent energy policy and timely infrastructure decisions.”

The shift is a response to “Russia’s energy blackmail in Europe and the war in Ukraine,” the energy ministry said. Russia recently demanded to receive payment for gas shipped to Europe in rubles, the official currency of Russia.

The demand is now “meaningless, as Lithuania no longer orders Russian gas and no longer plans to pay for it,” the ministry stated.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda encouraged other EU countries to do the same.

“From this month on—no more Russian gas in Lithuania. Years ago, my country made decisions that today allow us with no pain to break energy ties with the aggressor,” he wrote on Twitter. “If we can do it, the rest of Europe can do it too!”

Lithuania also previously announced it would not allow any Russian LNG imports due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The former Soviet state’s 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 of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic to its south west. Lithuania’s gas grid website showed on Saturday evening roughly the same amount of gas entering from Russian-ally Belarus as was being exported to Kaliningrad.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on March 31 that he signed a decree requiring “unfriendly” foreign buyers of Russian gas to pay in rubles starting April 1, threatening to halt contracts if the payments weren’t made in the required currency.

A number of European countries rely heavily on Russian gas and oil. A potential halt in Russian gas exports to those countries could cause a significant energy crisis.

The Group of Seven of advanced countries—the United States, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, and Japan—has so far refused to meet Russia’s demand to pay for gas in rubles. Germany and Austria have already started making preparations to deal with a possible gas crisis, activating emergency plans to deal with any disruptions.

Jack Phillips and Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times