Lithuania. In June, Lithuania’s competition authority sentenced Russian Gazprom to fines approximately SEK 330 million for preventing other gas players from entering the Lithuanian market. Gazprom had, in protracted conflict, opposed the EU’s demand for a division between gas supplier and pipeline owner. Following the verdict, Gazprom sold its holdings in both management companies and gas companies, and Lithuania was able to implement EU regulations.
Following difficult negotiations on gas prices with Gazprom, the government received a reduction of about 20% in May. This took place since Lithuania began to negotiate with, for example, Norway and Qatar on gas deliveries to a liquid gas terminal in the port city of Klaipėda. The terminal, called Independence, arrived in October and is expected to take up to two-thirds of the current annual gas demand.
According to Countryaah.com, Lithuania population in 2020 is estimated at 2,722,300. The crisis in Ukraine affected Lithuania, which has a border with the Russian enclave Kaliningrad where military exercises were carried out. Russian aircraft increasingly flew near Lithuanian airspace, causing NATO planes stationed in Lithuania to lift. “Thank God we are NATO members,” declared President Dalia Grybauskaitė. In a poll, nine out of ten residents of Lithuanian cities said they saw a danger of Russian attack despite NATO membership.
In March, US Vice President Joe Biden came to Vilnius with the assurance that the United States would defend every NATO member against any external attack. In April, the United States sent 150 paratroopers to Lithuania as part of NATO’s deployment of troops in the Baltics and Poland. NATO also increased the number of combat aircraft in the Baltic States from four to twelve.
When the EU discussed sanctions against Moscow because of the war in Ukraine, Lithuania was restrained by concerns about counter sanctions. The large Lithuanian agricultural exports to the Russian Federation suffered severely and the country sought compensation from the EU. In November, restrictions on Lithuanian vehicles were introduced to the Russian enclave Kaliningrad.
Lithuanian authorities decided to temporarily ban the state-run Russian TV channel RTR from broadcasting in Lithuania since it reported Russian-friendly about the war in Ukraine.
Lithuania received a reprimand from the UN Human Rights Committee during the year for banning former President Rolandas Paksas from being banned for life from running for political office in Lithuania. According to the Committee, Paksa’s civil rights have been violated. Dalia Grybauskaitė was re-elected in May for a new five-year term as president. She got 46% of the vote in the first round and won in the second round against Socialist Zigmantas Balčytis with 58% against 42%.
Lithuania applied for accession to the euro zone at the beginning of the year, and during the summer, the EU provided a clear sign for the transition to the euro from the New Year 2015.
The security policy crisis had domestic political consequences in August, when the Lithuanian-dominated parties in the government decided to exclude the Polish minority party from the coalition. The election campaign for Poles in Lithuania had criticized the government’s treatment of the Polish minority and was also accused of standing on the Russian Federation’s side in the Ukraine crisis.
President Grybauskaitė was one of the most Kremlin-critical leaders in the EU, and in the fall she called the Russian Federation a terrorist state. Among the reactions from Moscow there were demands that the diplomatic relations with Lithuania be broken.
In the shadow of the Ukraine crisis, the Lithuanian military deployed a force of 2,500 soldiers to respond quickly to threats at borders and within the country. Lithuania also promised military support to Ukraine, whose soldiers were allowed to come to Lithuania for training and medical care. After several years of delayed plans, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine signed a joint military brigade in September to train to participate in international peacekeeping missions.