Moscow has condemned an “openly hostile” move to limit the flow of EU-sanctioned goods to the Russian enclave, and Lithuania has defended the measure.
Russia’s foreign ministry has asked Lithuania to immediately lift “openly hostile” restrictions on rail transport of EU-sanctioned goods to the Moscow enclave of Kaliningrad.
Sandwiched between EU and NATO members Poland and Lithuania, Kaliningrad receives supplies from Russia via rail and gas pipelines through Lithuania.
The Baltic state of Lithuania announced last week, Prohibition of the carriage of goods by rail From mainland Russia to Kaliningrad are subject to EU sanctions.
The list includes coal, metals, building materials and advanced technology.
“If the transport of goods through Lithuania between the Kaliningrad region and other territories of the Russian Federation is not fully restored in the near future, Russia reserves the right to take action to protect its national interests,” the Russian foreign ministry said. in a statement on Monday.
The ministry said it had summoned Lithuanian chargé d’affaires in Moscow to protest the “provocative” and “openly hostile” measures.
Earlier on Monday, the Kremlin said Lithuania’s decision was “unprecedented” and “violates everything that exists”.
“The situation is very serious and requires a very in-depth analysis before any measures and decisions are made,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabriel Landsbergis defended the move and said his country was simply enforcing the sanctions imposed by the EU, of which it is a member.
He said the measures were taken after “consultation with the European Commission and in accordance with its guidelines”.
“Sanctioned goods (will) no longer be allowed to transit through Lithuanian territory,” Landsbergis added.
According to Kaliningrad Governor Anton Arikhanov, the ban will affect about 50 percent of all imports from the enclave.
The freight division of Lithuania’s state railway service confirmed the ban in a letter to customers on Friday after the European Commission “clarified” the mechanism for imposing the sanctions.
Alikhanov urged citizens not to panic buy, saying that two ships are already carrying cargo between Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg, and seven more ships will be in service by the end of this year.
“Our ferries will handle all the cargo,” he said Saturday.
Home to the headquarters of Russia’s Baltic Fleet, the enclave was seized from Nazi Germany by the Red Army in April 1945 and ceded to the Soviet Union after World War II.