The Stockholm Network reports the following in its newsletter:
Russia’s shutdown of oil supplies to Lithuania last summer seems to have enraged Lithuania to the extent that it is willing to join Poland in blocking talks on EU-Russia oil agreements.
Following a reported leak last July, Transneft, Russia’s state-controlled pipeline operator, shut the Druzhba link to Mazeikiu Nafta, the only refinery in the Baltic states. But there has been speculation that Russia may be using the blockage to lower the value of Mazeikiu, and in this way encourage Poland’s PKN Orlen, which beat Russian rivals to take over the plant, to abandon its acquisition of the refinery.
Deputy Foreign Minister Zygimantas Pavilionis queried Russia’s motives: “The leak can be fixed in several weeks, but eight months have passed already and nothing has happened. It is a political act.” And his concern has been given credence by statements from Transneft stating that examination of the pipeline is ongoing and that supplies would not be resumed earlier than March 2007. In the eventuality that the pipeline cannot be repaired, the construction of a replacement might take up to two years.
Last November, Poland vetoed EU-Russia talks on wide-ranging co-operation, in response to Russia ‘s ban on Polish meat imports.
Dreading over-dependence on Russian energy, the three Baltic States and Poland have agreed in principle on the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania by 2015. The Lithuania Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said that a deal to build the plant was expected to be signed mid-2008.
Eastern Europe appears determined not to let Russia dominate it again. Nuclear power will help both in that respect and as a ‘no regrets’ solution to reducing greenhouse gases.