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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lithuania May Consider Blocking EU-Russia Talks

VILNIUS, Lithuania -- Lithuania may join Poland in blocking talks between the EU and Russia on a new cooperation pact unless the bloc acts to restore Russian oil supplies to the Baltic country, a deputy foreign minister said Friday.

Oil pipeline monopoly Transneft shut the Druzhba link to Mazeikiu Nafta -- the only refinery in the Baltic states -- following a reported leak last July, and has not restored it yet.

Analysts have said Moscow may be using the pipeline shutdown to reduce Mazeikiu's value and thus encourage Poland's PKN Orlen, which earlier beat Russian rivals to take over the plant, to abandon its acquisition.

"We would like the issue [of crude supply] to be discussed at the spring European Council" meeting of EU leaders, Deputy Foreign Minister Zygimantas Pavilionis told reporters.

The EU summit is scheduled for March 8 to 9.

"We think that the EU should influence the process. We have asked the [EU] presidency, but nothing has happened," he added.

Pavilionis said unless the EU put pressure on Russia to reopen the Druzhba link, "There is an idea to block the mandate for talks with Russia."

"We can become another Poland," he said, referring to the Polish decision late last year to veto the launch of EU-Russia talks on a wide-ranging cooperation agreement.

Poland blocked the talks because Russia refused to lift its ban on Polish meat imports.

"The leak can be fixed in several weeks, but eight months have passed already and nothing has happened. It is a political act," Pavilionis said.

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said earlier last week it still expected Russia to provide a schedule for the pipeline repairs.