Riga, Mar 30 (EFE).- The Lithuanian government Wednesday asked the European Union for additional security funds to monitor trains transiting the Baltic nation to reach the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
Lithuania’s interior minister Agne Bilotaite said the government was asking for a 24 million euro (roughly $27 million) fund as well as increased technical assistance, including helicopters to monitor the route.
Lithuania agreed to allow civilian and military train transit between the exclave and Russia via Lithuanian territory under an agreement with the EU in 2004.
The so-called corridor is already monitored by surveillance cameras while trains are regularly checked by Lithuanian border guards.
But Bilotaite said the government was asking for more surveillance cameras and sensors as well as new helicopters.
Lithuania’s request may be linked to concerns that, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sanctions imposed on Moscow by Western countries, train transit will be used for Russian troop movements, local media reported.
It is also related to fears of an increase in attempts to sabotage trains or tracks on that corridor.
The area between the border of Belarus and Kaliningrad, which forms the border of Lithuania with Poland, is known as the Suwalki corridor and is considered to be of strategic importance because it is the communication with Poland and the rest of the EU and Nato territory held by the Baltic countries.
Any movement of troops to reinforce the defenses of Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia have to cross that corridor.
The city and its surroundings, formerly East Prussia, is heavily militarized and houses the headquarters of the Russian Baltic Sea fleet.
It is also a major port and industrial area.
The city dates back to 1255 when it was founded by the Teutonic Knights on the site of a settlement by a Baltic tribe, the Old Prussians. EFE