Lithuanian authorities said a ban on the transit through their territory to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad of goods that are subject to EU sanctions was to take effect from Saturday.
News of the ban came on Friday, through a video posted by the region’s governor Anton Alikhanov.
The EU sanctions list notably includes coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology, and Alikhanov said the ban would cover around 50% of the items that Kaliningrad imports.
Goods banned from entering the EU under sanctions introduced after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine include Russian coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology. Just less than half of the goods that cross Lithuania in about 100 train journeys every month fall under EU sanctions, although there are different dates for them coming into force.
Kaliningrad is wedged between Lithuania and Poland, where the Pregolya River feeds into the Baltic Sea. It has about half a million inhabitants.
Its immediate start was confirmed by the cargo arm of Lithuania’s state railways service in a letter to clients following “clarification” from the European Commission on the mechanism for applying the sanctions.
Urging citizens not to resort to panic buying, Alikhanov said two vessels were already ferrying goods between Kaliningrad and Saint Petersburg, and seven more would be in service by the end of the year.
“Our ferries will handle all the cargo”, he said on Saturday.
A spokesman for Lithuania’s rail service confirmed the contents of the letter but declined to comment further. The foreign ministry did not reply to a request from Reuters for comment.
Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Mantas Adomenas told public broadcaster his institution was waiting for “clarification from the European Commission on applying European sanctions to Kaliningrad cargo transit”.
Sandwiched between EU and NATO members Poland and Lithuania, Kaliningrad receives supplies from Russia via rail and gas pipelines through Lithuania.
Home to the headquarters of Russia’s Baltic sea fleet, the enclave was captured from Nazi Germany by the Red Army in April 1945 and ceded to the Soviet Union after World War Two.
The Kaliningrad Oblast is a territory of Russia. As an exclave, it is separated from its mother country’s capital of Moscow by about 680 miles.
After the conclusion of World War II, the Soviet Union was given control of the Kaliningrad territory at the Potsdam Conference. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the territory remained part of the Russian Federation, surrounded by newly independent countries which over time developed close ties to the West. Eventually, Poland and Lithuania joined the NATO alliance.
© 2022, GDC. © GDC and www.globaldefensecorp.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to www.globaldefensecorp.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.