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'Excited' EU nation becomes first in bloc to cut ties with ‘toxic’ Russian gas import

Lithuania had the goal of cutting out Russian gas for the past 12 years to stop reliance upon the state. Rokas Masiulis was appointed head of Klaipėdos Nafta, a state-controlled oil terminal operator, to achieve the task.

His role was to manage the execution of a floating liquified natural gas terminal located off Lithuania’s Baltic coast. 

The terminal became functional in 2014 and was created in the event of political relations becoming strained with Russia to ensure Lithuanians could still have access to gas.

When the conflict in Ukraine escalated, Lithuania decided the time had come to end any reliance on Russia.

On April 1, Lithuanian officials declared they would no longer import Russian gas and would instead be entirely reliant upon their terminal named Independence.

Lithuania’s Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte tweeted: “From now…on Lithuania won’t be consuming a cubic cm of toxic Russian gas.

“Lithuania is the first EU country to refuse the Russian gas import”.

Mr Masiulis is now Lithuania’s energy and transport minister and said: “I was excited about the Independence project when we took it on, but I couldn’t imagine how big a deal it would ultimately be.”

EU ministers are divided over imposing an embargo on oil or gas to prevent further funding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war.

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According to EU diplomat Josep Borrell, the European Union has paid €35 billion to Russia for energy since the beginning of the conflict.

The EU receives approximately 40 percent of their natural gas and 25 percent of their oil from Russia, making an embargo on Russian energy challenging.

Germany is one of the most reliant EU nations on Russian energy and has been heavily criticised for their reliance upon the country.

Employers and unions in Germany have opposed the boycott of Russian energy over the Ukraine war as they claim it would shut down factories and cause unemployment.

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Rainer Dulger, chairman of the BDA employers group, made a joint statement with Reiner Hoffmann, the chairman of the DGB trade union confederation.

They said: “A rapid gas embargo would lead to loss of production, shutdowns, a further de-industrialisation and long-term loss of work positions in Germany.”

As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urges EU countries to stop the flow of Russian gas to the bloc, Germany has suggested that sanctions on Russia need to cause minimal damage to those imposing sanctions.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “As long as the West continues buying Russian gas or oil, it is supporting Ukraine with one hand, while supporting the Russian war machine with the other hand.”



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