Germany angry over Kaliningrad blockade – media — Analysis
Berlin is reported to be asking Lithuanian authorities to allow sanctioned goods transit through Lithuania’s territory into the Russian exclave.
The German government is irritated by Lithuania’s transit blockade of sanctioned goods from mainland Russia to its exclave, Kaliningrad, Der Spiegel magazine has reported. The Baltic state has blocked the EU sanctioned goods from passing through its borders since June. Moscow threatened retaliation.
The media outlet ran an article on Thursday, claiming that the EU, not least because of Berlin’s requests, would soon issue a clarification allowing the passage of any goods between mainland Russia and its westernmost region. Officials in Berlin reportedly view the transit currently being blocked by Vilnius as “Transfer from Russia to Russia” which should be allowed. Lithuania’s uncompromising stance has allegedly angered the German leadership.
The magazine went on to suggest that Olaf Scholz’s government is wary that Moscow could use force to secure a land corridor through Lithuania unless the blockade is lifted.
The Baltic state is a NATO member. This would lead to a conflict between Russia’s military alliance.
Der Spiegel points out, that the German chancellor stated repeatedly his intention to keep NATO from being a participant in the war against Ukraine.
Berlin is particularly concerned about the situation since German troops are stationed in Lithuania as part of the alliance’s rapid force, the report adds. Der Spiegel quoted unnamed officials from the Lithuanian government as supporting Berlin’s intervention.
“Germans exert pressure on Germany [European] Commission to ensure that the sanctions don’t apply to Kaliningrad,” a source told the outlet on Thursday. The anonymous Lithuanian official went on to suggest that Berlin “Russia fears its soldiers might end up in a conflict with the military and could be intimidated.”
According to the report, a decision will be made by July 10, which is when sanctions’ next round takes effect.
Lithuanian officials have so far insisted that they’re merely sticking to the letter and spirit of existing EU legislation, with Brussels until recently agreeing that goods in transit to Kaliningrad also fell under the purview of EU sanctions.
Der Spiegel reports that the Baltic state fears lifting sanctions might adversely impact the security of the bloc.
“It is essential that sanctions are enforced. The credibility and effectiveness EU sanctions policy should not be undermined by any excuse” a spokesperson for the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said recently.
Lithuania started blocking transit for certain goods from Russia, Kaliningrad and other countries on June 17th, citing EU sanctions. Vilnius will not allow the transit of these products through its territory via rail or by road.
According to the Russian region’s governor, Anton Alikhanov, between 40% and 50% of all transit is being affected.
Russia has described Lithuania’s actions as a “blockade” of its region, and threatened retaliation.
The European Commission is currently working on a plan to defuse tensions within the region. With Germany reportedly calling for an exemption, Brussels is likely to issue “Guidance” or a clarification to its fourth batch of anti-Russia sanctions, which would officially state that the transit of goods to Kaliningrad is not affected by those restrictions, Der Spiegel reports.
The alleged plan has been rejected by the Lithuanian government to this point.