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6 Jul, 2022 08:28

Russian governor comments on response to Lithuania’s transit ban

Anton Alikhanov says Moscow could block the flow of goods between itself and the Baltic states
Russian governor comments on response to Lithuania’s transit ban

Russia could completely cut the flow of goods between itself and the Baltic states in response to Lithuania’s ban on the transit of sanctioned goods between the Kaliningrad exclave and the rest of Russia, the region’s governor has said.

Anton Alikhanov said he had several proposals on how to deal with Vilnius’ ban on the movement of restricted products.

“The most severe response would be a ban on the transit of all goods through the Baltic states,” he told Russian TV channel Rossiya-24 on Tuesday.

According to the governor, Moscow could block cargo traveling from Asia to Baltic ports through Russia, as well as the goods entering Russia through those nations.

The governor stressed that the measure would be “a serious, perhaps the most extreme response.” 

Kaliningrad Region is a small Russian exclave that lies between Lithuania and Poland. Last month, Vilnius banned the transit of some goods, including building materials, between Kaliningrad and the rest of Russia, citing EU sanctions imposed over the military campaign in Ukraine.

Russia blasted the move as illegal and promised to retaliate, while authorities in Kaliningrad scrambled to have the affected goods delivered via the Baltic Sea.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, argued that Lithuania’s actions were necessary to “control the sanctions.”

The region's governor denied that the flow of goods between Kaliningrad and the rest of Russia was a way to avoid sanctions. “Europeans should have absolutely no concerns over the Kaliningrad transit. It can’t be used to bypass sanctions. Any statement to the contrary is nonsense,” he told RIA Novosti news agency on Tuesday.

Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine reported last week that the EU was planning to allow Russia to resume sending sanctioned goods to Kaliningrad, but only in amounts “comparable” to deliveries before late February, when Moscow sent troops to Ukraine.