The launch of commercial operation by the reactor is triggering provisions in the so-called anti-Astravyets law that will give Lithuania additional legal levers to bar market access for Belarusian electricity, according to the minister.

"We're starting a legal process that will allow us to take control of the lines," Kreivys told the Ziniu Radijas radio station. "Today, we don't have the control of these lines. We have certain agreements and we own them jointly."

"We're starting [a process] to regain sovereignty in the field of electricity," he added.

The minister promised to give more details later on Thursday.

Kreivys also said that the European Commission has proposed to change the rules power auctions on the Nord Pool exchange so that Russian electricity be traded after EU-generated power.

"Electricity of EU market countries comes first, and only then Russian electricity," the minister said.

"Latvia and Estonia have tried to shun this issue until now, but we believe that this event can help us resolve this issue," he said, referring to the forced diversion by Belarus of a passenger flight to Minsk.

Some electricity from Astravyets still enters Lithuania occasionally, but more significant flows have stopped once Ukraine decided not to purchase Belarusian power, according to Kreivys.

"We can see today that Belarus consumes as much [electricity] as it produces, but there are moments [...] when a certain amount of electricity produced in excess of Belarus' consumption does reach Lithuania. It isn't large, but it still allows us to say that there's [Belarusian] electricity in Lithuania," he said.

Data from the power transmission system operator Litgrid show that 16 million euros’ worth of Astravyets electricity was purchased in Lithuania between January 1 and May 24, 2021. The bulk of that amount came in before March 24, when Belarusian power exports were still in full swing, according to Kreivys.

"When Ukrainians stopped buying Belarusian electricity, Russians, Inter Rao, lost the possibility to conduct swap deals, because Russian electricity would come to Ukraine and be sold there as Belarusian, and Belarusian electricity would come to us and be sold as Russian," the minister said.

The Astravyets plant currently operates at half of its capacity, at 450 megawatts, but Belarus turns off its modernized Lukoml gas power plant to use that electricity, he said.

Kreivys has said that the Baltic trilateral methodology for trade in electricity with Russia, unilaterally approved by Tallinn and Riga, not only fails to bar market access for power from the Astravyets plant, but is also pushing up electricity prices in Lithuania.