Russia has previously demanded that Lithuania immediately lifts import restrictions to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which has no land connection to the rest of Russia.
The country reacted with rage when the decision came last week, and threatened with “serious consequences”. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has called the operation “illegal.”
The EU has imposed sanctions on a number of Russian goods, and Lithuania will therefore not allow Russian freight traffic to pass through the country.
The Russian Foreign Ministry believes that the restrictions are “openly hostile” and threatened on Monday with countermeasures.
“If freight traffic between the Kaliningrad region and the rest of Russia’s territory through Lithuania is not fully restored, then Russia reserves the right to take measures to protect its national interests, the ministry wrote in a statement on Monday.
A person with direct insight into the EU discussions tells Reuters that Kaliningrad is “sacred” to Moscow and says:
– We must see the reality. Putin has greater pressure than we have. It is in our interest to find a compromise.
Pulled into confrontation
The fear among Baltic states and Germany, which has soldiers in Lithuania, is that Russia with military means decides to plow a land corridor through Lithuania, and thus draw NATO forces into direct confrontations.
However, a spokesman for Lithuania told Reuters that they had only enforced the EU sanctions decision and that they, as the only EU country, could not be exempted from the decision.
“Sanctions must be implemented and the decisions taken must not undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the EU’s sanctions policy,” the spokesman said.
The list expands
So far, EU sanctions prevent the transport of iron, steel and metals to Kaliningrad through EU states.
The list of sanctioned goods will be expanded to cement and alcohol from 10 July, coal in August and oil products as fuel in December.
When the final phase begins, about half of the freight sent to Kaliningrad from Russia will be sanctioned.
Neither passengers nor food is prohibited and Kaliningrad can still be reached by plane or sea.
Lithuanian authorities have so far stopped EU-sanctioned imports on their way to Kaliningrad, Russia. This has led to a halt in the railway route between the Russian mainland and the exclave on the Baltic Sea.
Increases gas supply
Russia’s state-owned gas company Gazprom will increase supplies to the country’s exclave of Kaliningrad.
This is stated by the exclave governor Anton Alikhanov, writes The Guardian.
The announcement comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin in May informed Gazprom that the company should consider increasing the shipment of liquefied natural gas to Kaliningrad.
The exclave is sandwiched between the NATO countries Lithuania and Poland. It has no land connection to the rest of Russia, but has access to the Baltic Sea.