Lithuania says it will limit Baltic power trade with Russia and Belarus

VILNIUS, July 5 (Reuters) - Lithuania says it will limit Baltic power trade with Russia and Belarus from Sept. 15, by decreasing the transfer capacity of its power links with Belarus from 1,250 to 400 megawatts (MW), its transmission system operator Litgrid said on Monday.

The change will need to be approved by the Lithuanian regulator, the statement said.

Thirty years after splitting from the former Soviet Union and 17 years since joining the European Union, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are still in common electricity grid with Russia and Belarus.

Electricity from Russia and Belarus travel freely on the common grid, but only Latvia allows buying the non-Baltic electricity on its power exchange.

Once traded on the Latvian exchange, the electricity can then be resold anywhere in the Baltics.

Lithuania protested against this trading scheme when it was introduced in November, saying it opens the door to selling power from Astravets Nuclear Power Plant in Belarus into the Baltics.

Lithuania considers the nuclear power plant, built near its capital Vilnius, unsafe, and its law prohibits sales of electricity from Astravets in Lithuania.

Latvia disagrees, saying it only allows buying power from Russia, not Belarus. (Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; Editing by Nick Macfie)