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Lithuania bans transit, Moscow is preparing a response. What is known about the attempted blockade of Kaliningrad

MOSCOW, 20 June. © Vitaly Nevar/TASS

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow considers Lithuania's actions openly hostile and demands the immediate lifting of restrictions

Moscow considers the actions of Lithuania, which has restricted the rail transit of a number of goods to the Kaliningrad region due to European sanctions, openly hostile and demands that the restrictions be lifted immediately. This was announced on Monday at the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Press Secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov called the decision of Vilnius unprecedented and illegal. In the next few days, Russia will conduct a "deep analysis" of the situation, following which it will develop response measures, he said.

At the same time, Lithuania assures that the country has not introduced any unilateral or additional restrictions, but only "consistently applies EU sanctions."

TASS collected the main information about the situation.

Lithuanian blockade

  • Lithuanian railways from midnight on Saturday, June 18, stopped the transit to the Kaliningrad region and back of a large list of goods that fell under European sanctions.
  • Governor Anton Alikhanov said that 40-50% of the range of goods that were transported between the Kaliningrad region and other Russian regions fell under the ban. According to him, we are talking about building materials, metals and "important both for construction and for the production of finished products."
  • Later, he explained that transit restrictions do not yet apply to coal (until August 10), as well as gasoline and diesel fuel (until December 5). Thus, the share of the range of goods prohibited for transportation will reach 50% by the end of the year.
  • Lithuania did not restrict road transport. As TASS was told in the press service of the Kaliningrad customs, from Sunday morning to Monday morning, over 500 trucks en route to and from the Russian region were issued at the Chernyshevskoye checkpoint.

Russia's reaction

  • Lithuania's unprecedented and illegal decision "is a violation of everything and everything" and "an element of the blockade,"  Peskov told reporters. He added that "a serious, in-depth analysis would be carried out in the next few days in order to work out retaliatory measures," but did not specify what steps the Russian side might take.
  • On Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned  Lithuanian Charge d'Affaires Virginia Umbrasene, who received a "strong protest," the ministry said. Moscow called the decision of Vilnius a violation of its international legal obligations, including the joint statement of the Russian Federation and the European Union on transit of 2002, and demanded the immediate lifting of restrictions.
  • The Foreign Ministry also said that Russia reserves the right "to act to protect its national interests" if cargo transit to the Kaliningrad region and back is not restored in full in the near future. What actions are in question, the message of the Foreign Ministry does not say.
  • Alikhanov also stressed the illegality of the Lithuanian decision and recalled that it contradicts the obligations that Vilnius assumed when joining the EU in 2004. He regarded Lithuania's move as an "attempt to strangle" the Russian region.

European excuses

  • In Vilnius itself, explaining their decision, they referred to the position of the European Commission. According to Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, the ban was introduced after consultations with the European Commission and on its recommendations.
  • Later, the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a special message, which assured that the country "has not introduced any unilateral, individual or additional restrictions", but only "consistently applies EU sanctions." As noted in the ministry, a note with explanations regarding the transit was handed over to Charge d'Affaires of Russia Sergei Ryabokon.
  • EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday that "the situation in Kaliningrad is incomparable with the situation in Ukraine" because the blockade of the Black Sea ports, which the West accuses Russia of, affects "the rest of the world."

Consequences for Kaliningrad

  • Alikhanov called the situation "unpleasant, but solvable," but stressed that it requires an urgent dispatch of additional vessels to the Ust-Luga-Baltiysk line. According to him, there are free vessels, and they will enter this route within a week.
  • The governor noted that the charter of the ships may require additional time and money, but expressed confidence that "there will be no problems with the delivery or export of goods from the territory of the region."
  • The head of the press service of the government of the Kaliningrad region, Dmitry Lyskov, in response to a request from TASS , assured that there would be no shortage of consumer goods in the region.
  • At the same time, the head of the Kaliningrad region expressed the opinion that the Baltic states would suffer from transit restrictions: according to him, Lithuanian railway workers could lose their earnings, and the ports of the region's countries could lose goods for transshipment.
  • "We cannot assume that the Baltic ports will be used at least for some capacity without transit through the territory of the Russian Federation," Alikhanov said on the air of the Rossiya-1 TV channel.




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