EU grants Baltic grids 720 mln euros to unplug from Russia

OSLO, Oct 2 (Reuters) - The European Union has given 719.7 million euros ($842.9 million) in grants to the three Baltic states to disconnect from Russia’s power grid and join the continental European one, the grid operators of the three states said on Friday.

After leaving the former Soviet Union three decades ago and joining the European Union and NATO in 2004, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are still connected to Russia via their power grids.

The financial support will allow the three countries’ power grids to start operating on the same electric current frequency as Poland and other continental European countries in 2025, the operators said.

“It will increase the energy security of our region,” said Varis Boks, head of Latvia’s power transmission system operator AST.

The biggest part of the grant, 493 million euros, will be used to build a subsea interconnector called Harmony Link between Lithuania and Poland.

The two countries already have one onshore interconnector.

Today, the Baltic power grids are synchronized with the Russian grid, meaning they depend on each other to maintain stable power supplies and prevent blackouts.

Russia has been critical of the Baltic states’ plan to break away, as it would leave Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave, sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea’s eastern coast, disconnected from Russia.

Last year, a new power plant was launched in Kaliningrad to ensure the exclave could be self-reliant.

$1 = 0.8538 euros Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Mark Potter