Lithuania announced on Saturday (April 2) that the country would no longer allow Russian gas imports as Europe continues to reduce its reliance on energy imports from Moscow.
“From this month on—no more Russian gas in Lithuania. Years ago my country made decisions that today allow us with no pain to break energy ties with the [aggressor.] If we can do it, the rest of Europe can do it too!” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said in a post on Twitter.
Last week, the U.S. and European Commission announced a task force “to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and strengthen European energy security,” which would include the U.S. and partners directing more liquified natural gas to the European Union, per a White House readout on the matter.
After European nations imported the most gas from Russian sources yesterday in months, scrambling to stock up on supplies as Putin’s deadline to either pay for gas in rubles (or be cut off) came and went, Russian gas giant Gazprom has officially halted all deliveries to Europe via the Yamal-Europe pipeline, a critical artery for European energy supplies.
Instead of flowing toward Germany and the EU, gas supplies on Friday (April 1) and Saturday (April 2) started flowing in the opposite direction, according to Gascade, the network operator.
Now that Putin is turning up the pressure, the European nations have a difficult choice ahead: either they can play ball and demonstrate to the world that their efforts to wean themselves off of their dependence on Russian energy have been mostly in vain. Or they can face a “catastrophic” economic crisis as energy prices soar, leading to rationing, blackouts and other measures that will make the 1970s oil crisis in the US look like child’s play.