Russia accused of disrupting new energy link between Sweden and Lithuania

Nordbalt cable [Baltic reports]

Russian naval ships have repeatedly disrupted cable-laying work between Sweden and Lithuania in the past few months, prompting diplomatic protests from both countries affected.

The laying of the Nordbalt cable, which is being built between Sweden and Lithuania, has been disrupted four times by Russian ships in the past two months, the Swedish press reported.

“Sweden has discussed the matter with Russian authorities,” Pezhman Fivrin, spokesperson for Foreign Minister Margot Wallström was quoted on Saturday (2 May).

Sweden intends to take up the issue with Russia again today (4 May).

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry has also taken action, summoning the Russian foreign minister claiming that Russia is in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

It released a statement accusing Russia of “attempts to interfere” with the construction of the cable, and saying Russia’s excuse was that it was a “protection of their military exercise zones”.

“Russian authorities have never asked Lithuanian institutions or received any prior authorization for such activities in exclusive economic zone of Lithuania,” it concluded.

The 400-kilometre long cable runs from Klaipeda in Lithuania to Nybro on Sweden’s east coast. The purpose of the cable is to improve Lithuanian and Scandinavian trading on electricity markets, and to increase the security of power supply to both the Nordics and Lithuania. The energy link has benefitted from EU financial support.

In response, Russia retaliated that the moves were to protect the country’s “military exercise zones”.

It comes just a few weeks after Sweden confirmed the alleged Russian submarine in the country’s territorial waters was a civilian work boat.

>> Read: Sweden suspects Russian submarine got stranded in its waters

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