(dpa) - Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said Friday he is convinced that Russia's plans to build a new nuclear power plant in the region was a public relations stunt.
The public relations campaign illustrates Russia's dissatisfaction with the plans for a new nuclear power plant to be built in Lithuania, Kirkilas was quoted by the Baltic News Service (BNS).
Kirkilas' comments come two days after Sergei Kirienko announced that Russia would build a new 5-billion-euro (8 billion dollar) nuclear power plant in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad by 2015.
"We are ready to offer foreign partners, primarily European ones, up to 49 per cent in the Kaliningrad Nuclear Power Plant," Kiriyenko said. He added the power plant would be capable of producing 2300 MW, far exceeding what the enclave would need.
"If this strategic decision was really made by Russia, I think, that this is a serious checkmate for Lithuania. Such a little region certainly doesn't need two nuclear power plants," Lithuanian political scientist Ceslovas Laurinavicius told BNS.
Lithuania and its Baltic neighbours, Latvia and Estonia, have been wrestling over the future of their energy supplies in anticipation of electrical shortage when the Ignalina nuclear power plant in Lithuania shuts down in 2009 as demanded by the European Union.
Mostly isolated from the EU energy networks, the Baltic countries would have to look to Russia as their main energy supplier amidst fears the Kremlin may use its economic foothold in the former Soviet republics for political gain.
The Baltics already have the electrical infrastructure with Russia in place, a remnant of the former Soviet Union system. Building new links is expensive and time-consuming.
Also years away is a replacement nuclear power plant for Ignalina, which the EU wants to shut down next year because it is deemed unsafe.
The three countries and Poland's push for new nuclear power station have been ridden with delays. Officials still say the nuclear power plant is likely to be completed by 2015, however energy experts say it's likely to be completed by 2020.
Lithuania's parliamentary elections in October are unlikely to force the government to make any decisions on this issue.
Instead, Lithuania which spearheads the efforts to replace the existing power plant, turned to Brussels to extend Ignalina's life, frustrating officials in Estonia and Latvia.