Russian N-plant to trump Ignalina?

  • 2008-04-18
  • Mike Collier association with BNS
VILNIUS - Russian plans to build its own nuclear power plantin Kaliningrad could threaten Baltic plans to build its own new nuclear station.

The Russian project could provide energy toLithuania and other nations in the region, forcing Lithuania into a humiliating climbdown on its own project and further increasing Russia's near-stranglehold on the Baltic region's energy resources.

The head of Russia's nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, Sergej Kirijenkoannounced April 16 a plan to build a new nuclear power plant in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. The plant would be constructed 2012-2015, coming online years before the putative Ignalina II project is expected to  start generating power. Current estimates suggest that 2018-2020 is the best Lithuania can hope for as the project involving Latvia, Estonia and Poland as well as Lithuania remains largely theoretical and mired in the minutiae of who does what and who gets what.

Speaking in the Lithuanian press, political scientist Ceslovas Laurinavicius suggested the Russian plan has a clear strategic goal: "This is a seriouscheckmate for Lithuania", he said, "Such a small region certainly doesn'tneed two nuclear power plants."

The political scientist also did not discount the possibility that talksof constructing a plant in Kaliningrad might be a bluff.

Chairman of the management board of Lithuanian energy company LietuvosEnergija Jurgis Vilemas also expressed doubts that Russia's threat to build anew power plant could be anything other than a rumor. However he didacknowledge that the Kaliningrad region, is strategically a very convenient location for building anuclear plant.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas is convinced that talks ofRussian politicians about the plant in Kaliningrad is a well planned public relations campaign. Even if the plans are unrealistic, they serve to refocus international attention on the lamentably slow progress being made on Ignalina II.