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Estonian PM tells nation to prepare for blackouts if Russia switches off power grid

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas addresses the media after an extraordinary parliamentary session in Tallinn, Estonia, July 18, 2022. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

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VILNIUS, Sept. 23 (Reuters) – Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told her country that power outages are possible if Russia kicks the Baltic states out of the common power grid, as she announced a rapid defense preparedness exercise.

“We also need to be prepared that Russia could disconnect Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from their electricity grids,” she said in a televised address on Thursday evening, according to the government’s website.

“It would be wise to be prepared for potential power outages — that includes governments, businesses and every individual,” she added, describing any disruptions as “temporary.”

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Nearly 3,000 reservists were called up on Thursday for an annual week-long defense exercise in Estonia, but the prime minister said there is no immediate military threat to the country.

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She called on Russian citizens living in Estonia to ignore any call to fight in Ukraine: “Don’t leave, because there is no turning back”.

Thirty years after the secession of the then Soviet Union and 17 years since it joined the EU, the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia still depend on Russia for a stable power supply.

An EU-funded 1.6 billion euro ($1.94 billion) project aims to disconnect the Baltic states from their common electricity grids with Russia and Belarus in favor of continental Europe’s decentralized electricity system by 2025.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda told Reuters in June that his country is ready if Russia disconnects it from the regional power grid in retaliation for blocking rail transport of some Russian goods to Moscow’s Kaliningrad exclave. read more

The European grid network ENTSO-E will connect to the grids of the Baltic states within 24 hours if the countries are disconnected by Russia, avoiding power outages, Lithuanian electricity grid operator Litgrid said in July. read more

“If Russia disconnects us, even today, we would be ready. Our analysis shows that the power supply would not be rationed and no major disruptions are expected,” said Litgrid Chief Executive.

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Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; Editing by Kim Coghill

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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