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Lithuania and Ukraine against purchasing electricity from nuclear

Lithuania’s minister of Energy Žygimantas Vaičiūnas and his Ukrainian counterpart Olga Buslavets discussed energy issues relevant to both countries, including the issue of not purchasing electricity from the Belarusian nuclear power plant.

“Although various statements have been heard in the past, Ukraine’s message is now clear, in neither the short term nor the long term, Ukraine is not planning to and will not purchase electricity from the nuclear power plant being built in Astravets,” announced Minister Vaičiūnas. “Ukraine’s priority and goal is integration into the European energy system. Like Lithuania, one of the most important jobs for our partner is to implement synchronisation with the Continental European network as soon as possible.”

The Ukrainian parliament is currently debating a bill concerning the country’s integration into the European energy system, which also proposes a ban on commercial imports of electricity from countries that are not members of the European Union or the Energy Union.

“This confirmation from the Ukrainian minister on not purchasing electricity from the Belarusian nuclear power plant is also an important signal to the EU and our partners in the region, the Baltic States and Poland, that Ukraine is strategically pursuing long-term goals and is also expressing solidarity with Lithuania on not purchasing electricity from the Astravets Nuclear Power Plant,” continued Mr Vaičiūnas.

This is not the first time that Minister Vaičiūnas expressed its concerns towards Belarus’ nuclear power. At the end of April, during a videoconference between the EU ministers responsible for energy policy and the EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, Mr Vaičiūnas reminded of what he defined as “the nuclear threat at the EU border.”

Belarusian officials had announced the construction of a new nuclear power plant that will start producing electricity by autumn.

“The only vaccine against a possible nuclear disaster is a joint effort by EU countries, the European Commission and third countries to ensure that the highest nuclear safety standards are met in power plants built there,” Mr Vaičiūnas had said.

During the conversation with Mrs Buslavets, the development of renewable energy was also discussed, one of Ukraine’s priority directions in energy. 

In fact, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Ukraine remains heavily reliant on gas and oil product imports. While energy policy has incentivised investment in renewables, possible policy reform reversals could impede further development. For his part, the Minister noted that Lithuania is ready to share its successful experience in organising renewable energy auctions and applying innovative solutions concerning energy prosumers.

The conversation also touched upon issues related to the diversification of gas supply sources. In the future, gas may become a focus of intensive cooperation between the two countries.

The lockdown and operating restrictions in place in Lithuania due to the COVID-19 pandemic have not affected the construction of the Gas Interconnection Poland-Lithuania (GIPL). As planned, this interconnection, which will not only benefit Lithuania but all of the gas market participants in the region as well, will be completed by the end of 2021, with almost two-thirds of the construction work planned for this year. Under favourable conditions, the GIPL will allow gas to be transported to or from Poland and other EU countries. With the application of additional technical solutions, it will also be possible to supply it to Ukraine or Belarus.

Photo: official website of Lithuania’s Ministry of Energy

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