Kaliningrad: Lithuania welcomes clarifications from Brussels but demands more

Kaliningrad: Lithuania welcomes clarifications from Brussels but demands more

Lithuania has welcomed the European Commission’s clarifications on sanctions relating to transit between mainland Russia and Kaliningrad, but continues to call for tougher sanctions.

The European Commission has updated its guidelines on managing the movement of sanctioned goods between mainland Lithuania and the Kaliningrad exclave, in an attempt to defuse the growing tensions that have existed for a week between Lithuania and Russia.

In terms of transit, the European Commission explained that if the road transport of sanctioned goods by Russian operators is not allowed, “no such prohibition exists for rail transport”. She also stressed that transit of sanctioned military and dual-use goods and technology is prohibited. “regardless of the mode of transport”.

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry reacted to the Commission’s clarification by issuing a statement on the same day in which it welcomed the ban on military and dual-use goods, as well as the transit of technologies. He also welcomed the introduction of a control of transit volumes so that they “remain within the usual averages of the last three years” and reflect the real demand for essential goods in Kaliningrad.

The clarification came after tensions escalated in mid-June, when Lithuania moved to block rail transit of steel and other metals, following sanctions introduced on June 17. Alcohol, cement and wood were banned on July 10, while coal and petroleum products will be banned on August 10 and December 5, respectively.

In reaction to Lithuania’s ban on the transit of EU-sanctioned goods, Moscow accused the bloc of imposing a “blockade”. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on June 22 that “the answer will not be diplomatic but practical”reports Reuters.

The Foreign Ministry statement stresses that Lithuania is implementing “consistently and effectively” the restrictive measures adopted by all EU Member States against Russia.

“Clearly understanding that one of the goals of the Kremlin regime is to divide transatlantic unity, to seek to create mistrust and to pit allies against each other, Lithuania will continue to remain faithful to the transatlantic partnership and to adhere to a unified and coordinated EU sanctions policy”the statement said.

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