Author: Anna Nikolayeva, Aleksei Bausin, Nadezhda Ivanitskaya
[Deputy Premier Igor Sechin comments on Lithuania’s pleas for
As a deputy premier now, Igor Sechin cannot remain as
taciturn and impervious as he has been so far. Journalists asked
Sechin about the situation with the demands from Vilnius to resume
oil export to Lithuanian refineries via the Druzhba [Friendship]
Pipeline. The pipeline was shut down due to some sort of breakdown
on the Russian territory in 2006 and Lithuania has been getting
Russian oil by tankers ever since. Official Vilnius calls it petty
vengeance for the sale of Mazeikiu nafta to a Polish buyer instead
of a Russian company. Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas
is convinced that nothing but political will is needed to put the
Druzhba Pipeline back in business.
“What demands?” Sechin said. “These are our natural resources
after all.” The deputy premier said Lithuania could use Russian
oil terminals but wouldn’t do so.
Oil conflict with Lithuania has already fomented a political
problem. Lithuania blocked the Russian-EU talks over a new
cooperation agreement this April. Vilnius informed the European
Union that it wanted the Druzhba issue on the agenda of the
negotiations between Moscow and the European Commission. The EU
promised to bear it in mind. Before the Lithuanian demarche, the
Russian-EU talks had been vetoed by Poland enraged by the Russian
meat export embargo.
Lithuanian foreign minister said yesterday morning (before
Sechin’s comments on the matter) that European partners were
putting Vilnius under pressure and added that Lithuania would
succumb to no bullying.
“This is the first time when Russia’s true reasons and
motives are admitted in public,” Fyodor Lukianov of Russia In
Global Politics journal said. “The Russian authorities have always
pleaded purely technical problems before now. Well, there is
nothing to prevent Lithuania from blocking the negotiations for
“As for Sechin, he is in charge of the energy sphere which
means that he cannot help making foreign political statements
every now and then,” Lukianov said.