In an unconventional effort to convince EU officials that Belarus' nuclear power plant is a safety hazard, the Lithuanian government has arranged a hot-air balloon ride for the bloc's energy commissioner to show him how close the construction site is to the Lithuanian capital.
Hot-air balloons in Lithuanian country side

Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission's Vice-President for Energy Union, was accompanied by Lithuanian Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas on the hot- air balloon flight on Tuesday evening.

"The wind was blowing to the east and we could see how close Astravyets is to Vilnius," Aurelija Vernickaitė, an advisor to the minister, told BNS.

Russia's state corporation Rosatom is building the nuclear power plant in Astravyets, some 50 kilometers from Vilnius. Lithuania maintains that the project falls short of safety and environmental standards, but Minsk rejects the criticism as unfounded.

In an effort to hamper the project, Lithuania's authorities plan to bar market access for electricity that will be produced by the plant and call on other countries in the region to join the effort.

In an interview published by business daily Verslo Žinios on Wednesday, Sefcovic was cautious about the initiative, saying there are question marks over how a ban on electricity imports is compatible with WTO rules and how this would help increase nuclear safety.

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