Russia has threatened retaliatory measures against Lithuania after the NATO member imposed transit bans on sanctioned goods heading to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad through Lithuanian territory, which went into effect on Saturday. The sanctioned goods include coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology, which makes up nearly half of Kalininagrad’s total imports. According to the European Union’s top foreign affairs official, Josep Borrell, the ban does not impact the transit of people or non-sanctioned goods, adding that “there is no blockade.”
Lithuania states it is just enforcing European Union sanctions on Russian goods, with Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis telling reporters “It’s not Lithuania doing anything: it’s European sanctions that started working from 17 of June.”
The transit of passengers and #EU non-sanctioned goods to the #Kaliningrad region through the territory of #Lithuania continues uninterrupted. ?? has not imposed any unilateral, individual, or additional restrictions on the transit and is acting fully in accordance with EU law. pic.twitter.com/qqgr9F84XM
— Lithuania MFA | #StandWithUkraine (@LithuaniaMFA) June 20, 2022
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that “The situation is more than serious,” adding “It’s a violation of everything.” Peskov also stated that “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.” Moscow has since summoned Lithuania’s envoy to protest the restrictions. Kaliningrad governor Anton Alikhanov has called on residents to not panic buy and Russia to increase maritime transit to the enclave to make up for losses by rail.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry called the transit bans “openly hostile” and have threatened “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.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba responded to the restrictions by tweeting: “Russia has no right to threaten Lithuania. Moscow has only itself to blame for the consequences of its unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.”