Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite with U.S. soldiers east of Vilnius in July. (Mindaugas Kulbis / AP)

Lithuania, among the bravest of the former Soviet states surrounding prickly Russia, has poked a finger directly in the Kremlin's eye by buying a shipment of American liquefied natural gas, defying Moscow's energy stranglehold on the region. The shipment Monday could not have been economically advantageous, given that Russian gas supplies are right next door, but Lithuania calculated that the political dividends made it a shrewd deal.

Why it matters: The move suggests that, three years after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Baltic states remain resolved to putting up a strong front against Moscow.

  • A geopolitical move: In an interview with Reuters, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius explicitly described the LNG shipment as part of his country's political calculus. "We want to cement our relationship with the United States in many aspects in addition to defense and security, [and the] energy trade is one of the strategic areas for cooperation," he said.
  • The shipment comes almost exactly a month after NATO military exercises were held just east of the capital of Vilnius, also intended to convey as a message of resolve against Russia.
  • Savoring the moment: On Monday night, a map on marinetraffic.com showed the LNG tanker Clean Ocean still moored at the Lithuanian LNG port, just southwest of Banginis, suggesting no rush to stop aggravating Moscow.

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In pictures: Storm Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

Debris on the streets as then-Hurricane Zeta passes over in Arabi, Louisiana, on Oct. 28. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Tropical Storm Zeta has killed at least two people, downed powerlines and left a trail of destruction since making landfall in Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday.

The big picture: A record 11 named storms have made landfall in the U.S. this year. Zeta is the fifth named storm to do so in Louisiana in 2020, the most ever recorded. Zeta weakened t0 a tropical storm early Thursday, as it continued to lash parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle with heavy rains and strong winds.

2 hours ago - World

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else in the world has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing," along with the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China