Both the EU and the Baltic state insist that restricting transit to Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad does not amount to a blockade
The EU Commission reiterated its support for Lithuania’s decision to heavily restrict the transit of goods to Kaliningrad Region, Russia. Eric Mamer, the chief spokesperson of the European Commission said that Lithuania has not implemented sanctions against Russia but rather imposed economic blocksade.
“We’re not talking about the Commission giving a recommendation to a country. This refers to a member country implementing the decisions they made in relation to sanctions against Russia. And Lithuania is basically doing what it is supposed to do under the sanctions regime,” Mamer stated, noting that the bloc’s stance was “extensively”Josep Borrell (EU diplomat in charge) explained the details a day earlier.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Borrell insisted that Vilnius’ move does not constitute a blockade against the small exclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, but was merely the implementation of the EU’s sanctions on Moscow, imposed over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. On Saturday, Lithuania’s national railway operator banned the flow of sanctioned goods between the region and the rest of Russia, citing instructions from the European Commission.
“Lithuania has not taken any unilateral national restrictions. However, certain goods are subject to import and export restrictions. These include the ban on transit through European Union territory from these goods. Lithuania is doing nothing else than implementing the guidelines provided by the Commission,”Borrell declared.
Officials from Lithuania gave a similar assessment of the situation. Senior officials from Lithuania stated that their decision was not a reaction to Russia’s tensions but was made on Tuesday by Ingrida Simonyte, the Lithuanian Prime Minister. According to her, the non-sanctioned flow of goods as well as passenger transit will continue unaffected.
Russian authorities labelled this move as an attack on national security. “economic blockade” of Kaliningrad Region, saying it violates the country’s international obligations to ensure the uninterrupted transit of goods to the exclave. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Vilnius’ decision was unprecedented, and in “violation of anything and everything.”
The head of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev, warned that the ongoing “blockade”Moscow will respond accordingly “have a serious negative impact on the people of Lithuania.”
“Of course, Russia will respond to hostile actions. Appropriate measures are in the works, and will be adopted in the near future,”Patrushev said this to journalists during Tuesday’s visit to Kaliningrad.