The secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, assured that Moscow will adopt measures that would have a “serious negative impact” on Lithuania if the partial blockade of some products to the enclave of Kaliningrad is not lifted. Vilnius defends that it is only applying the sanctions imposed by the European Union.
The diplomatic tension between Russia and the European Union is now centered on Kaliningrad. That Russian enclave in the Baltic Sea has been suffering from restrictions on the transit of some products from Lithuania since Saturday and that led Moscow to threaten retaliation.
Visiting the area, the secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, warned that Russia “will undoubtedly react to these hostile actions” and anticipated that the possible measures would cause a “serious negative impact” on the Lithuanian population, although he did not specify what they would be. These would represent a response to the blockade imposed by the EU on products such as steel and other ferrous metals, cement, alcohol and fertilizers.
The Russian authorities assure that traffic has been affected by both highways and railways and that the blockade reaches other basic products, accusations that were denied by Vilnius.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte stated that the restrictions affect only products included in the latest EU punishment package and that “the transport of all other goods that are not sanctioned or not yet subject to sanctions continues, while just like passenger traffic.
The president pointed out that the Russian complaints are part of her propaganda campaign and ironized about Moscow’s complaints about the alleged violation of the agreement for Kaliningrad, signed between Russia and the EU when Lithuania joined the bloc in 2002. “I don’t know if Is there any international treaty that Russia has not yet violated,” Simonyte questioned.
Moscow tells Brussels that the measures are “inadmissible”
Russia urged the European Union to “immediately” restore the full flow of products with the Kaliningrad region during a meeting at the Foreign Ministry, to which the EU ambassador to Moscow, Markus Ederer, was summoned.
In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported that Ederer “was expressed a firm protest in relation to the spread of anti-Russian and unilateral restrictions on the transit of goods” and that “there will be response measures” if the situation is not normalized.
The Foreign Ministry described as “inadmissible” the implementation of the partial bloc that, for Moscow, violates “the legal and political obligations of the EU” and leads to “an escalation of tension”.
According to the Russian Government, the EU measures violate the 1994 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and the 2002 Joint Declaration on transit between Kaliningrad and the rest of the territory of the Russian Federation.
However, at the end of the meeting, Ederer defended that the restriction “is not a blockade” and that “transit for people and merchandise that is not under sanctions works normally.” In addition, he stressed that Lithuania does not apply “unilateral” measures, but rather that they respond to the bloc’s policy.
“I have urged the Russian side to remain calm and not aggravate (the situation) in words or deeds, and resolve this matter diplomatically,” he said.
Kaliningrad, a former German territory surrounded by two NATO countries
Kaliningrad is a Russian enclave with coasts on the Baltic Sea, which is separated from the rest of Russia and borders two countries of the European Union and NATO, Lithuania and Poland.
Founded in 1255 during the Germanic expansion into Slavic territory, the city was called Königsberg. But it was conquered in 1945 by the Soviets after a hard fight with the Nazis and renamed Kaliningrad.
The territory has just over 200 square kilometers and about a million inhabitants. It is a Russian military outpost, which Moscow has reinforced with nuclear-delivered missiles and anti-aircraft defense systems in the face of what it sees as the threat of NATO expansion.
In addition, it is a strategic economic platform between the Germanic and Russian worlds, which since 1996 has been considered a special economic zone.
This enclave is supported by its two ice-free ports in Kaliningrad and Baltiisk and its road and rail routes. While it has no connection with Poland, there are freight trains that travel through Lithuania and Belarus.
However, European sanctions have limited the circulation of some products and Moscow can only move the goods subject to these punishments by sea.
Denouncing the so-called “blockade”, the governor of Kaliningrad, Anton Alijanov estimated that between 40 and 50% of the supplies arriving in the enclave from Lithuania could be affected.
With Reuters, AP, EFE and AFP
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