As Lithuania is approaching its goal of separating from the electricity network extending across the former Soviet Union and fully integrating itself into the energy system of Western Europe, Moscow might claim multi-billion-euro damages that Vilnius could be liable to pay based on a treaty signed 14 years ago.
© DELFI / Valdas Kopūstas

LRT television reports that a five-party treaty was concluded in 2001 among the Baltic states, Russia and Belarus (the so-called BRELL ring), which might entitle the latter two countries to demand compensation from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia for leaving the electricity network of the former Soviet Union.

With two major electricity links due to be finished this year, the Baltic states hope to soon become part of the EU energy network, allowing them to import electricity via power connections with Sweden and Poland.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently claimed such a move would be very unwise economically and might cost billions. In an interview to La Serra newspaper last June he said that the Baltic withdrawal from the Russia-dominated electricity market might cost Moscow up to EUR 2.5bn.

Gediminas Kirkilas, chairman of the European Affairs Committee at the Lithuanian parliament, told LRT that Brussels was indeed considering reimbursing Moscow for its losses.

"Yes, there are talks to that effect, there has even been a study which quotes slightly lower figures than the one mentioned by the current president of Russia. We are talking about a billion euros. I would not rule out the possibility that the EU might try to convince us to pay compensation for our withdrawal," Kirkilas said.

The BRELL treaty, signed in 2001 under the government of the then conservative Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas, regulated electricity supply among the Baltic states, Russia and Belarus. It includes a clause saying that should any of the parties wish to quit, the others are entitled to compensation for any losses they might incur.

According to LRT, Russia and Belarus might claim compensation from the Baltic states for the cost of building power lines and other infrastructure to ensure reliability of their power supply.

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