Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, during the meeting US Vice President Mike Pence, called the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant (NPP) a “new threat from Russia.”
Grybauskaite said that the NPP might be a potential non-conventional weapon, the presidential press service said in a statement Monday.
“At the meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence the President of Lithuania has stressed that the firm position of the United States regarding Kremlin’s geopolitical energy projects has a key importance in relation to the emergence of a new threat — the construction of an insecure Belarusian nuclear power plant near the town of Astravyets, close to the borders of NATO, that might be used as non-conventional weapon,” the statement read.
Grybauskaite pointed out that the United States’ active role in the regional energy sector was gaining strategic importance. According to the Lithuanian leader, Washington’s decision to impose sanctions targeting Russia’s energy projects was a firm message that said that Russia would not manage to “use its position in the energy sector to manipulate and interfere in affairs of other states.”
Lithuania has long opposed the construction of the Belarusian NPP, located 30 miles from the Lithuanian border, with participation of Russian specialists. Belarus has, however, insisted that the facility complies with the highest safety standards. The station is being built with help from Russia, and its first unit is due to start operating in late 2019. The NPP will be comprised of two power units, which will have a total energy capacity of up to 2,400 MW.
Last week, the US Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill on new sanctions against Iran, North Korea and Russia. The new sanctions, if adopted, will boost restrictive measures against Russia, particularly against the Russian energy industry. The new sanctions will also counteract the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, as the United States believes the project threatens the energy security of Ukraine and the European Union.