Lithuania expands Kaliningrad blockade
The restrictions imposed on the transit of freight to the Kaliningrad Region by Lithuania have already affected road traffic, officials of the Russian exclave said on Tuesday.
“The partial restriction of freight transit also applies to road vehicles passing through Lithuania. Like [goods transported by] rail, these goods can now only be transported by sea,” the press service of the regional government has said.
Vilnius began implementing the restrictions on Saturday, when Lithuania’s national railway operator banned the flow of sanctioned materials between Kaliningrad and the rest of Russia, citing guidelines from the European Commission.
Both Vilnius and the EU have insisted that the restrictions, expected to affect roughly 50% of cargo flow between the exclave and the rest of Russia, do not amount to a “blockade” but merely come as an implementation of anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the bloc over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
“We’re not talking about the Commission giving a recommendation to a country. This is a member state implementing decisions that they have taken when it comes to the sanctions against Russia. And Lithuania is basically doing what it is supposed to do under the sanctions regime,” European Commission chief spokesman Eric Mamer said earlier in the day.
The Russian government has blasted Vilnius’ move as an “economic blockade,” with Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov calling the decision unprecedented, and in “violation of anything and everything.”
The head of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev, vowed there would be a response to the ongoing “blockade,” stating that unspecified actions to be taken by Moscow would “have a serious negative impact on the people of Lithuania.”
“Of course, Russia will respond to hostile actions. Appropriate measures are in the works, and will be adopted in the near future,” Patrushev told reporters amid a visit to Kaliningrad on Tuesday.