A Week of Great Contrasts

The death and destruction in and around Independence Square in the magnificent city of Kiev earlier this week served as a stark reminder that geopolitical maneuvering affects not just sovereign nations, but individuals and families as well. With a son living in Sevastopol, I watched the tragic events in Ukraine with tremendous sadness and breath-holding trepidation.

It was particularly ironic that the crisis in Kiev should become so violent during the second and final week of the XXII Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, less than 900 miles away. The sharp contrast between world-class athletes competing in fierce but friendly competition and the deadly street fighting in Kiev was not lost on any of us who care deeply about the future of this great nation and all of Eastern Europe.

While these contrasting events were unfolding, Lithuania’s president, Dalia Grybauskaitė, was in South Korea to christen the floating LNG regasification and storage vessel under construction by Hyundai Heavy Industries for Norway’s Höegh LNG and Klaipėdos Nafta. When finished and operating at the Port of Klaipėda on the Baltic Sea, the vessel will provide the Republic of Lithuania with an alternative to its current 100 percent dependence on a single gas supplier (Gazprom).

In a press release issued from her office, Grybauskaitė said: “This vessel carrying a nice symbolic name “Independence” is a real step towards our energy independence and security, which means that we have an alternative and no one ever will blackmail us over gas prices or influence, through energy, our political or economic life. It means not only fair prices for our people, but also an economically stronger and more competitive Lithuania.”

Grybauskaitė added that, the LNG terminal is important for the energy security of the whole Baltic region, since the Klaipėda terminal will have sufficient capacity to satisfy the needs of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.