The development of nuclear power in Belarus is an important issue addressed by Lithuanian foreign policy due to a mixture of geographic, political and nuclear safety concerns. Despite the pronounced relevance, the topic has received very limited academic attention. The paper attempts to fill this gap by identifying key objectives of Lithuanian foreign policy towards Ostrovets NPP and strategy for attaining them. The research is based on the analysis of high-level meetings and statements of six Lithuanian decision makers and a wide range of official documents. The paper argues that despite the apparent focus on nuclear safety of Ostrovets NPP, Lithuanian foreign policy aims to prevent its construction or at least to prolong the process. In order to do this, Lithuanian pressures Belarus via European Union and other international organizations and platforms by highlighting the nuclear safety issues of the plant, Belarusian non-compliance with Espoo and Aarhus conventions and presenting it as matter of international concern.
The article analyses Lithuanian foreign policy in respect of the Ostrovets NPP from December 2008 till 2019. The aim of the article is to examine the goals of the Lithuanian foreign policy, its measures and outcomes. The analysis of official documents and high-level meetings was used to achieve this aim. The documents helped to reveal the strategic and economic features of the Ostrovets NPP, the official Lithuania’s position and its change. Meanwhile, the study of high-level meetings helped to determine the direction of Lithuanian foreign policy, its objectives, ways to justify them and means of their implementation. The study revealed that Lithuania opposed the construction of the Ostrovets NPP throughout the entire period under analysis, but initially it did that indirectly, emphasizing the issue of nuclear safety, and since mid-2016, the indirect resistance has gradually turned into a direct one - this nuclear power plant was considered a Russian geopolitical project. Although Lithuania’s interests with regard to the Ostrovets NPP have not been consistently represented at the highest political level during the period being analyzed, the country’s foreign policy can still be considered sufficiently effective. Lithuania successfully raised the issue of nuclear safety internationally, which eventually made Belarus to partially comply with Lithuania’s requirements for the admission of international experts. When it comes to constraining the supply of Belarusian electricity, Lithuania was able to agree on a favorable scenario for the synchronization of electricity systems of the Baltic States through Poland, securing Warsaw’s support. Nevertheless, attempts to constrain the supply of Belarusian electricity till the synchronization can only be effective if Lithuania succeeds in reaching agreements with Latvia and Estonia.
The article argues that despite the evident link between political environment and security of energy supply, political elements are not sufficiently represented in contemporary scientific literature, namely in indexes that are designed for the assessment of security of energy supply. In an attempt to fill this gap, the article presents an innovative methodology for quantitative assessment of the political vulnerabilities on security of energy supply and applies it to the analysis of the Baltic States.
The proposed index determines the plausibility of the occurrence of threats of a political nature on the security of energy supply and defines it as political vulnerability. The application of index methodology to an analysis of the Baltic States has revealed that the overall political vulnerability on security of energy supply is the highest in Lithuania, considerably lower in Latvia, and the lowest in Estonia. The analysis has shown that political vulnerability has increased in Lithuania due to the closure of Ignalina NPP and an increase in energy import quantities from politically unstable countries, such as Russia. On the contrary, political vulnerabilities on the security of the energy supply have decreased in Latvia and Estonia due to the increase of consumption of indigenous energy. However, preliminary calculations show that political vulnerabilities should decrease considerably in 2015 in Lithuania due to the diversification of the natural gas supply.