Lithuania as Gazprom’s Annual New Year Victim?

New Year’s Eve has become an internationally celebrated holiday featuring some weird traditions.  In Spain, you gather in the square and swallow 12 grapes with each toll from the clock tower.  In the Phillipines, you are meant to wear polka dots and jump up and down to increase your height.  In Manhattan, champagne and improbable promiscuity quickly transforms into the following day’s hangover. 

But for Gazprom, the New Year is usually celebrated by bludgeoning some bordering country with the energy weapon.  Instead of Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria, or by proxy the Balkans, this year the prize goes to Lithuania.  Vilnius is not facing a supply cut, but rather has been excluded from a deal extended to Estonia and Latvia to slash prices by 15% if the two countries could increase shipments to pre-crisis levels.  Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s a measure which the Lithuanians have angrily denounced as “economic blackmail” and a response to the government’s decision to implement the EU’s third package of energy reforms – the “unbundling” of gas supply and distribution companies.

See coverage of this developing story over at The Lithuania Tribune.