Russian LNG Vessel Back in Baltic Amid Tensions Over Ukraine, Gas Supplies

MOSCOW (Reuters) — A huge Russian gas vessel, designed to safeguard supplies to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, has returned to the Baltic Sea region, tracking data showed on Wednesday, amid tensions over Ukraine and concerns about gas supplies to Europe.

Marshal Vasilevskiy - a floating storage and regasification unit
Marshal Vasilevskiy - a floating storage and regasification unit

The Refinitiv Eikon data showed the Marshal Vasilevskiy - a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) which can also act as a liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessel - visited the Belgian port Zeebrugge where it loaded 163,800 cubic meters of LNG on Jan. 20 and is now near Kaliningrad.

The ship's main role is to supply LNG to Kaliningrad, which is separated from Russia's mainland and sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania. The ship ensures the enclave can receive gas even if there are disruptions to pipelines running through Lithuania.

But the vessel, which President Vladimir Putin hailed as Russia's energy security boost, has been leased to several firms since starting operations in 2019, shipping cargoes to and from other markets, such as Singapore and the United States.

Gazprom, Russia's gas export pipeline monopoly which owns the ship, declined to comment on vessel's latest movement.

Russian energy supplies and its network of gas export pipelines have been in the spotlight as Moscow has amassed some 100,000 troops near Ukraine, which is forging closer ties with the West. The Kremlin opposes any possible move by Kyiv to join NATO.

Russia denies it plans to invade Ukraine, but the West has said it would impose tough sanctions on Moscow if it does.

The United States has been in with major energy-producing countries and companies around the world over a potential diversion of supplies to Europe if Russia invades Ukraine, senior Biden administration officials said on Tuesday.

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