Poland became Lithuania's first ally in its efforts to stop the construction of the Russian state corporation Rosatom's nuclear power plant in Belarus when it stated its intentions not to purchase electricity from the facility under construction in Astravyets, just 50 kilometers from Vilnius, Lithuanian politicians and experts said on Monday.
Astravyets NPP

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius sees Poland's statement as a blow to Russia's geopolitical project, not to Belarus.

"I don't think this is a blow to Belarus. This is a blow to that geopolitical project organized by Russia," he told BNS.

Belarus' media reported last year that Poland did not rule out buying electricity from the Astravyets. Linkevicius says that Belarus has now received a clear signal that it may have difficulty selling electricity generated by the plant.

"This is a signal to us as far as solidarity is concerned, but it is also a clear signal to Belarus. Problems selling electricity they plan to produce in that unsafe facility make the outlook for these intentions very dim," he said.

Lithuanian politicians and experts agree that the entire region's support for a boycott of electricity is needed to bring the construction to a halt. However, Latvia has adopted a more reserved position on this issue and does not plan, at least for now, to restrict electricity imports from Belarus.

Lithuanian Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas expects that Poland's decision may prompt Latvia to change its stance.

"I hope that Poland's clear and unambiguous statement will also contribute to Latvia's position becoming increasingly supportive to us," the minister said.

According to him, Latvian and Lithuanian experts are currently discussing a potential boycott of electricity and are trying to outline the points they disagree on.

In Vaiciunas' words, Poland has become a strong ally against the Astravyets project, sending a clear signal to Belarus.

He expects that the Astravyets issue will receive more attention at the EU level after Warsaw has joined Lithuania in boycotting electricity from the plant.

The minister declined to speculate on whether the reason behind Poland's decision was to stop the project or to bar access for cheap electricity from third countries.

"What is important for us is to hear the fact that Poland is ready to help us and that it plans to keep that electricity out and says very clearly that it will dismantle the power lines. This is fully in line with our position," Vaičiūnas told BNS.

"I'd rather not go into further interpretations. These are Poland's internal political affairs," he added.

Poland, which protects its coal industry and power plants producing expensive electricity, had made it clear earlier that it was interested in barring access for cheap power from third countries to its market, but it had not declared in diplomatic statements its intentions not to buy electricity from Belarus.

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