Even though the recent state of burgeoning ties between the Baltic States, namely the B3 (Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia) seems to bring positive momentum to the trilateral relationship, a most critical key player in the region has been neglected due to its political and economic shortcomings.
Belarus, a landlocked country in Europe, bordering Russia and Ukraine to the east, promises much more than it seems, in terms of its location as well as a well-positioned transit route. Approximately %10 of Europe’s oil nearing 1 million barrels per day – is transmitted through the Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline via Belarus. The pipeline, which was built during the Soviet era, supplies Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
In addition to the constantly recurring price disputes, Moscow also supplies around 33 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe — mostly to Germany — via the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline crossing Belarus. In total, these numbers amount to %6 of Europe’s total gas consumption.
What the policy makers and experts need to realize is that despite joining the European Union and NATO in 2004, the Baltic quartet are still part of a Russian-controlled power grid. The Baltic states, with the exclusion of Belarus, are on their way to integrating into the European energy grid by 2025, with the aim of relieving themselves of the dependence on the Russian grid.
If admitted to the B-3 with feasible terms and conditions, Belarus can also help to improve and modernize software used to control energy systems to prevent attacks by Russian hackers that could disrupt energy supplies.
“A primary target with great industrial loopholes for Russian hackers is the Baltic energy network system followed by cyberspace” said Kyle Inan, a geopolitical analyst focusing on the region.
While Lithuania and neighbouring Poland have already begun importing US LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) in a bid to bolster their energy security by reducing dependence on Russian gas supplies.
By: Kyle Inan