Russia warns Lithuania over rail transit blockade

Russia has warned Lithuania of “serious” consequences after it banned the rail transfer of some goods to the Russian territory of Kaliningrad.

Russia “will certainly respond to such hostile actions,” senior security official, Nikolai Patrushev, said.

Lithuania said it was only following the European Union (EU) sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Kaliningrad – a strategic region where Russia’s Baltic Fleet was headquartered – has no border with mainland Russia.

The western territory was annexed from Germany after World War Two in 1945, and was bordered by EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) members, Lithuania and Poland.

The region – where an estimated one million people lived – relied heavily on imports of raw materials and spare parts from Russia and the EU.

Regional Governor, Anton Alikhanov, said the ban would cover around 50 per cent of the items that Kaliningrad imported.

During a visit on Tuesday to Kaliningrad, Mr Patrushev said the blockade by Lithuania was instigated by the West “in violation of… international law”.

The secretary of Russia’s Security Council warned that “appropriate measures” would be taken “in the near future”.

“Their consequences will have a serious negative impact on the population of Lithuania,” he added, without giving any further details.

Earlier on Tuesday, the EU ambassador was summoned to the Russian foreign ministry over the blockade.

Last week, the Lithuanian authorities announced they would ban goods subjected to EU sanctions from passing through their territory to Kaliningrad.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, said: “It’s not Lithuania doing anything: its European sanctions that started working from June17… It was done with consultation from the European Commission and under European Commission guidelines”.

The EU has echoed Lithuania’s statement, saying that the country was just implementing sanctions imposed by the EU as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The sanction list included coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology.

As a member of the NATO military alliance, Lithuania was protected by collective defence treaties.

Russian officials were furious with Lithuania – and the EU – over the ban on the transit of some goods to Kaliningrad. They’re likening it to a blockade. -BBC

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