Lithuania to bar access for Astravyets electricty after declaring it a threat

Nuclear power plant under construction in Astravyets

Lithuania will be able to prepare for imposing an embargo on Belarusian electricity once its parliament declares the nuclear power plant under construction in Astravyets, a mere 50 kilometers from Vilnius, a threat to national security, Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas said on Wednesday.

The government decided earlier in the day to propose that the Seimas pass a law declaring the Astravyets plant a threat to Lithuania's national security, environment and public health due to its geographical location.

If the parliament adopts such a law, "a list of specific measures to protect the country against this threat would be drawn up within three months," he told BNS.

According to the minister, such measures include restricting market access for Russian and Belarusian electricity and physically limiting the flow of power by disconnecting a part of lines with Belarus.

"Restricting commercial power flows is one of the most effective measures. It is also possible to limit the physical flow. Synchronization is the most sustainable way to achieve this, but to a certain extent, taking into account our system, we could also limit the physical flow," Vaičiūnas said.

Once Lithuania declares the Astravyets plant a threat to national security, a part of WTO rules that prohibit countries from restricting free cross-border trade will cease to apply, the minister said.

He predicts that Belarus will describe the government's decision as an attempt at politicking.

The Seimas has recently passed a law aimed at restricting electricity imports from Belarus and Russia.

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