Moscow has threatened Lithuania with military action after preventing EU-sanctioned goods from reaching the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
Lithuania has defended its decision to block sanctioned goods, including steel, from reaching Russia’s Baltic Sea region, home to around 430,000 people.
The Kaliningrad exclave has land borders with Lithuania and Poland and is isolated from the rest of Russia.
The goods usually reach Kaliningrad by rail via Belarus and Lithuania; there are no transport routes via Poland.
Russia is still able to supply Kaliningrad by sea without clashing with EU sanctions, but has urged Lithuania to lift its ban, warning that “Russia reserves the right to take any action to defend its.” take national interests into account if transport links are not fully restored”.
Lithuania is a NATO member state and any attack on it would be counted as an attack on the alliance.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has sharply denounced the “illegal” ban.
“This decision, unprecedented indeed, is a violation of everything and then some,” he told reporters Monday.
“We understand that it is linked to the relevant decision of the European Union to extend sanctions to transit (of goods).
“We also consider this to be illegal.”
The Foreign Ministry invited Lithuania’s chief diplomatic representative to Moscow for a formal protest, claiming that the Baltic nation is violating international agreements.
Lithuania has not had an ambassador in Moscow since April, when it downgraded diplomatic relations in protest at the killing of civilians in Ukraine by Russian forces after the February 24 invasion.
Lithuania later called the Russian envoy in Vilnius to tell him the ban was in line with EU sanctions and that there was no blockade of Kaliningrad.
The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said Lithuania’s move cannot be compared to the situation in Ukraine.
“The rest of the world will not be affected by what is happening in Kaliningrad, but the rest of the world is very much affected by what is happening in Ukraine,” he said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted: “Russia has no right to threaten Lithuania. Moscow is responsible for the consequences of its unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.’
On Monday, Lithuanian customs said the sanctions, which came into force in mid-June, are part of the fourth EU sanctions package imposed on March 15.
Lina Laurinaityte Grigiene, a customs spokeswoman, said the affected items were made of Russian steel “that cannot be transported through the territory of European countries”.
“Land transit between Kaliningrad and other parts of Russia will not be stopped or blocked. All goods that are not subject to sanctions can be transported freely,” she said.
She added that from July 10 similar sanctions will apply to concrete and alcohol products, from August 10 to coal, and from December Russian oil will be banned from EU territory.
Anton Alikhanov, the governor of the Russian exclave, estimates that the ban would affect about 50% of all goods flowing into Kaliningrad by rail.
He also said he would urge Russian authorities to take action against Lithuania and seek to ship more goods.
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more stories like this, Visit our news page.
Get the top news, feel-good stories, analysis and more
https://metro.co.uk/2022/06/20/russia-threatens-lithuania-with-military-action-over-blocked-goods-16861005/ Russia threatens Lithuania with military action over blocked goods