Baltic states ask Russia to save it from frost

Baltic states ask Russia to save it from frost

Sergey Savchuk

The energy crisis raging in Europe not only keeps the prices for electricity generation at record levels, but along the way is crushing the geopolitical schemes of our closest neighbors with a merciless roller.
Recently, the Estonian operator Elering turned to Russia and Belarus with a request to urgently increase the flow to the Baltic countries, and primarily to Lithuania. This is due to the fact that the region is experiencing a severe shortage of electricity, and the cost of one megawatt-hour on the Nord Pool exchange has recently exceeded 600 euros – and is not going to go down yet.
It is noteworthy that Russia, represented by Inter RAO, has already agreed. Russian producers are ready to increase supplies to one gigawatt-hour, that is, to increase them tenfold at once, since at the moment the flows to the Baltic countries do not exceed 100 megawatt-hours. A Russian man in the street, who is pretty much fed up with the indicative Russophobia of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, reading such news, is probably perplexed: why should we help those who build their statehood on the foundation of hatred for everything Russian. It is stupid to deny political and other trends in the Baltics, however, as is almost always the case in the geopolitical game, the situation has several levels, far-reaching consequences and does not have simple solutions.
Perhaps you need to start with a short trip into the past, this will allow you to understand the depth of the current picture and the peculiarities of the players’ disposition. The Baltic countries on their way to the European Union, trying to prove their maximum loyalty, fulfilled literally all the requirements put forward by Brussels. This resulted in the maximum cooling of relations with Moscow, rewriting of history, but most importantly, the Baltic states began a suicidal experiment to break energy ties with Russia and Belarus.
It should be noted here that among the Baltic troika, the policy of Lithuania was especially radical, deaf to the voice of reason and the laws of physics. Consider, for example, the demonstrative closure of the Ignalina nuclear power plant, which was located exactly at the junction of the borders of Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus. The plant was of strategic importance not only because it guaranteed national energy sufficiency, but also allowed for export trade. By the beginning of the 2000s, the kilowatt-hour produced at the Ignalina NPP had a prime cost of less than two euro cents, and was sold to consumers at least ten.
Overflows from there along the shortest route went to the north – to Latvia and Estonia. Brussels, under the pretext of the alleged unreliability of Soviet reactors, demanded to close the station, which Vilniusresignedly and diligently fulfilled, ignoring the conclusion of the IAEA, where it was written in black and white that the Ignalina RBMK-1500 reactors are the most reliable in Europe. The second power unit of the only Lithuanian nuclear power plant was permanently shut down in December 2009. Further more. Over the next years, politics became increasingly involved in energy issues, while completely ignoring common sense and economics. Again, Lithuania was the most active here.
In 2017, Estonia refused to import Russian electricity supplied from the Leningrad NPP. At that time, the enterprise had reactors of the RBMK-1000 type in operation, which were not capable of performing power maneuvers, which led to an overproduction of electricity, which was especially clearly observed in winter periods. However, the Russian side quickly resolved the problem by redirecting supplies to the capital and the Moscow region. It should also be noted that, although Estonia refused to purchase, but the physical infrastructure, that is, the power transmission line of the energy bridge from Pskov, mostly retained. Just in case.
Lithuania, on the other hand, with the start of the construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarusian Ostrovets, arranged a form of prolonged hysteria, frightening the whole of Europe and its own citizens with an almost guaranteed man-made disaster, in other words, a second Chernobyl. That only is the constant distribution of iodine tablets to residents of border regions and a legislative ban on the purchase of Belarusian electricity. Most recently, Vilnius unilaterally stopped importing electricity from Russia and Belarus.
And all would be fine, but by doing so, the Lithuanians not only grossly violated the rules of the European energy exchange Nord Pool, where Russian Inter RAO and BelNPP trade completely openly and legally, but (most importantly) endangered the energy security of their neighbors and sisters…
If we take a physical map of the region and superimpose on it the scheme of the BRELL energy ring (Belarus, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia), then the plan of the Soviet power engineers and the current alignment will become clear.
The fact is that it was the Lithuanian SSR that was considered and used as the main transit route, meeting the needs of the other two Baltic republics. Four power bridges entered Lithuania at once: one from the Grodno side, two from the Belarusian Molodechno – with a V-shaped fork to Vilnius and Ignalina, the main line from Polotsk also entered the Ignalina power center. For comparison: two highways were stretched to Estonia (from Kingisep and Pskov), and one to Latvia.
With the beginning of its introduction into the family of European nations, the Baltic States practically abandoned the import of Russian electricity, freezing most of the energy bridges, leaving Lithuania as the only window of supply. Why – the question is not for us, but for the leadership of Latvia and Estonia.
It should also be added here that Poland, another chronic Russophobe in the political arena of Europe, has chosen Lithuania as a guarantor of its own energy security. The northeastern regions of Poland, where there is no own power plant at all, received energy via cable from Sweden. The Nord Balt submarine power cable connects the Swedish city of Nybro and the Lithuanian city of Klaipeda, going further south to the delight of Polish consumers. This whole complex and unstable scheme worked at the very least until this year. And then a global crisis broke out, energy prices flew into the heavens, dragging along with them just before the beginning of winter the cost of electricity and heat production.
The picture was complemented by a prolonged dry autumn, due to which the water level in the rivers fell sharply in Finland and Sweden. According to local media reports, water production in some regions decreased by 30-40 percent, which led to a sharp drop in the generation of electricity at hydroelectric power plants. The Swedes and Finns are now completely not up to the salvation of the Baltics and Poland, they would have to close their needs. The deficit is so great that the Swedes have reactivated the eerily unencumbered Karlhamn fuel oil power plant, and Finland has increased the supply of electricity from Russia to the maximum. As evidenced by the reports of the same Inter RAO, the DC link in the Vyborg region operates at maximum voltage.
To show the difference between the Russian and European approaches to ensuring their interests, let us also mention the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant, which has already become the talk of the town. In the course of a tender, Finland refused the services of the Russian Atomstroyexport, which offered to build a station and equip it with VVER-1000 reactors. The preference was given to the French Areva with its EPR reactor. Construction began in 2004 and is still under way, that is, for a full seventeen years, and the cost of the project from the initial three billion dollars has more than tripled and exceeded ten billion. European media dryly report that it is possible that a license to load fuel into the Olkiluoto core will be obtained by the spring of 2022. But it is not exactly.
If you go back to the beginning of our today’s conversation and carefully read the statement of Mrs. Ayn Kester from Elering, it will become much clearer the dead end into which the Baltic States flew with a running start and of their own free will.
Estonia and Latvia are primarily trying to resolve the “Lithuanian question”, that is, to reverse the decades-old practice, in which Vilnius took the position of a kind of northern Ukraine. Absolute non-negotiability and disregard for logic and economics, even to the detriment of oneself and partners, who are directly dependent on transit through a particular country. Well, let’s see how Riga and Tallinn will fight with their own-grown dragon, simultaneously replenishing the Russian budget and confirming that there is no alternative to BRELL.

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