EU country becomes first in bloc to sever ties with ‘toxic’ Russian gas import | Politics | News

Lithuania had set itself the goal of cutting off Russian gas for the past 12 years to end its dependence on the state. Rokas Masiulis was appointed as the head of Klaipėdos Nafta, a state-controlled oil terminal operator, to accomplish the task.

His role was to lead the implementation of a floating liquefied natural gas terminal off the Baltic coast of Lithuania.

The terminal became operational in 2014 and was set up in the event that political relations with Russia became tense to ensure Lithuanians would still have access to gas.

As the conflict in Ukraine escalated, Lithuania decided it was time to end any dependence on Russia.

On April 1, Lithuanian officials declared that they would no longer import Russian gas and would instead be completely dependent on their terminal called Independence.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte tweeted: “From now on… Lithuania will not consume another cubic centimeter of toxic Russian gas.

Lithuania is the first EU country to refuse Russian gas imports.

Mr Masiulis is now Lithuania’s Minister of Energy and Transport and said: “I was excited about the Independence Project when we took it on, but I couldn’t imagine how big the deal it would be in the end.”

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

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

The EU receives about 40 percent of its natural gas and 25 percent of its oil from Russia, making an embargo on Russian energy a challenge.

Germany is one of the EU countries most dependent on Russian energy and has been heavily criticized for their reliance on the country.

Employers and unions in Germany have opposed the boycott of Russian energy over the war in Ukraine, claiming it would close factories and cause unemployment.

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

They said: “A rapid gas embargo would lead to loss of production, closures, further de-industrialization and long-term job losses in Germany.”

While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is urging EU countries to stop the flow of Russian gas to the bloc, Germany has suggested that sanctions against Russia should cause minimal harm to those imposing sanctions.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “As long as the West continues to buy Russian gas or oil, it will support Ukraine with one hand while supporting the Russian war machine with the other.”

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