Lithuania Bans Goods From Transiting To Kaliningrad, Russia
LITHUANIA - NATO member, Lithuania has banned some goods from traveling to the Kaliningrad, Russia enclave from Lithuania which has angered Russia who said the move was "unprecedented" and "unlawful" as well as threatening to respond saying "the situation is more than serious".
Kaliningrad is a port city that sits between Poland and Lithuania and has no land borders with Russia. Being an enclave between the two countries, Russia has to pass through Lithuania in order to transport goods into the enclave as there is no transit through Poland. The only other way is to go by sea to ship goods to the enclave.
The ban includes coal, construction materials, metals, and advanced technology, which totals about 50% of Kaliningrad's total imports into the enclave. Gabrielius Landsbergis, who is Lithuania's foreign minister said that the country is only implementing sanctions that were imposed on Russia by the European Union, being an EU member state, and that the measures were introduced on Saturday after "consultation with the European Commission and under its guidelines".
Josep Borrell, who is the foreign policy chief of the European Union said "In accordance with EU sanctions, there are imports and export restrictions that apply in relations with certain goods".
"Lithuania is doing nothing else but implementing the guidelines provided by the Commission... if they transit through EU territory for some goods, it’s prohibited" the EU foreign policy chief added but denied that there was any 'blockade' being imposed on Russia.
Anton Alikhanov, who is the governor of Kaliningrad has put out a statement asking residents of the enclave not to begin panic buying items and reassured them that two ships were in the process of shipping goods between Saint Petersburg and Kaliningrad, with more ships expected to be in service to ship goods by end of the year. "Our ferries will handle all the cargo," he said.
Russia's foreign ministry called the move an "openly hostile" action and has demanded that Lithuania immediately lift the ban and said that "If cargo transit between the Kaliningrad region and the rest of the Russian Federation via Lithuania is not fully restored in the near future, then Russia reserves the right to take actions to protect its national interests".
Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said that "The situation is more than serious" and stated that "This decision, indeed unprecedented, is a violation of everything and then some. We understand that it is connected to the relevant decision of the European Union to extend the sanctions to transit (of goods). This we also consider unlawful."