VILNIUS (Reuters) - The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia said on Monday they had agreed to link their power systems to other European Union members through Poland as they look to reduce their dependence on Russia.
Power grids in the Baltic countries, formerly part of Soviet Union, are still integrated with those in Belarus and Russia. The three Baltic countries have been members of the European Union and NATO since 2004.
The Baltic governments see the continued dependence on Russia as a threat, partly because of what they say is a lack of transparency on upkeep of the network in Russia, which they say makes it hard to rely on its stability.
"We would want to desynchronize the Baltic States from Russia. And first priority is desyncronization which will be done through Poland," Estonia's Prime Minister Juri Ratas told reporters in Tallinn after meeting his counterparts from Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
"All four of us agreed that we will try to get clarity on division of (duties) between all four countries by the end of the year," Ratas said.
Russia has never cut power flows to the Baltic states or threatened to do so, but Lithuania lists its power system's synchronisation with Russia as one of the top national security risks.
The countries will still need to find a way to accommodate Russia, whose Kaliningrad enclave power network is currently synchronized with mainland Russia through the Baltic states.
Decoupling from the Russian system, originally projected for 2025, was delayed as countries debated whether to synchronize using power links between Lithuania and Poland, or undersea power cables which would be laid between Estonia and Finland.
A recent study by Joint Research Centre, the European Commission's science and knowledge service, suggested synchronizing through Poland as the most economically viable and reliable way, Lithuania's Ministry of Energy spokesman told Reuters.
Reporting By Andrius Sytas, editing by Pritha Sarkar