Apr. 25, 2014 10:03 AM ET
VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Later this year, a ship the size of an aircraft carrier will arrive at Lithuania's port of Klaipeda on the Baltic Sea. The 300-meter (984-foot) vessel is not a warship, but a floating natural gas import terminal — aptly named "Independence" — that will be key to the Baltic region's plan to reduce its reliance on Russia's energy supplies.
The countries in this northeastern corner of the European Union are among the most dependent on Russia to keep their homes warm and industries running. The three Baltic nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania get all their gas from Russia and lack connections to the wider European pipeline system that would allow them to import from elsewhere. Poland meets 70 percent of its energy needs with Russian supplies.
As a result, the states, which still have fresh memories of domination by Moscow during the Cold War, have been among the swiftest countries in Europe to act to reduce that dependence.
Moscow's use of gas supplies as a means of putting pressure on Ukraine — like the Baltics, once part of the Soviet Union — has driven new urgency into projects to diversify energy supplies in the region, even as the full 28-member EU has struggled to come up with a united approach. MORE