Lithuania denies blocking rail transit to Russia’s Kaliningrad
Riga, Jun 20 (EFE).- Lithuania’s railways Monday denied cutting off transit between Russia and its Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad after Russian officials expressed anger over the alleged move that interrupted goods flow to the region.
“Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (LTG/Lithuanian Railways) has not imposed any unilateral, individual or additional restrictions on it. The transit of passengers and cargo goods, which are not subject to the EU sanctions, continues to be ensured,” head of public relations Laura Gabrilaviciute told EFE.
The EU sanctions on rail transit shipments from Russia via Belarus to the Russian enclave would cut imports and exports of goods to and from Kaliningrad by 40 to 50%, Kaliningrad governor Anton Alichanov told media outlets.
The sanctions would mostly affect steel products and building materials, forcing Russia to ship goods by sea or air.
Andrei Klimov, the deputy chairman of Russia’s Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs, told reporters the alleged blockade of Kaliningrad violated the terms of Lithuania’s entry to the EU, and threatened to break the transit shipment restrictions “by any means.”
Earlier on Monday, Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said in a press conference in Luxembourg the ban of shipments through Lithuania to Kaliningrad was a matter decided by the EU as a whole, not by Lithuania.
When Lithuania joined the EU after signing an agreement in 2004, it agreed to allow civilian and military transit traffic between the enclave and Russia through Lithuanian territory.
But when the war between Russia and Ukraine was raging in March, the Lithuanian government said it was asking for additional EU funds to upgrade security with cameras and helicopter patrols along the rail route from the border with Belarus to the border with Kaliningrad.
Before sanctions were imposed, there was regular traffic by thousands of Russian civilians to and from Kaliningrad, which historically has belonged to Prussia, Sweden, the Polish-Lithuanian state and, as Koenigsberg, to pre-war Germany before it was signed over the Soviet Union as part of the post-war settlement at the 1945 Potsdam Conference.EFE