VILNIUS, June 18 (Reuters) – 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. read more
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.
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.
Video below shows panic-buying by Russians living in Kaliningrad, a portion of Russia detached from the mainland, nestled between Lithuania and Poland. The buying began because Lithuania cut-off Russian railroad shipments to the oblast (state).
For more than thirty years, there has been an understanding between Russia and Lithuania that the oblast (state) of Kaliningrad would be supplied via the Russian railroad through a narrow strip of land called the Suwalki Gap, that runs from Russia, along the southeastern border of Lithuania. The agreement held that the trains would be left alone, and act as a supply tunnel of sorts to the Russians living in Kaliningrad.
All that ended 48 hours ago, when Lithuania took it upon itself, to say Sanctions against Russia (over its Ukraine special military operation) would be applied to trains to/from Kaliningrad.
This means that virtually no transit can take place between Russia and its western-most state.
People in Kaliningrad fear they may starve to death having been cut-off from Supplies. That fear caused panic, and panic-buying took place yesterday and last night, as shown in the video below:
I am told the large bags seen being loaded into shopping carts are 50lb bags of flour.
It appears that Lithuania is trying to CAUSE Russia to attack them militarily over this new embargo. They want this to take place because Lithuania is a member of NATO and once an attack takes place, Lithuania will invoke Article 5 of the NATO treaty, collective self defense.
That would instantly place ALL the countries of NATO, at war with Russia, which is exactly what NATO wants, so as to be able to engage Russia directly to stop its operation in Ukraine.
The trouble with this thinking is that the President of Russia made clear “it will be a war that nobody will win.” That’s a euphemism for nuclear war.
President Putin, commenting publicly at the start of Russia’s “special military operation” into Ukraine, made clear that Russia’s conventional forces are no match for NATO Conventional forces. But, he said, “Russia is also a nuclear power. And our technology is superior to everyone else’s. So if NATO invokes Article 5, it will be a war no one will win.”
Knowing this, Lithuania STILL enacted a sanctions embargo against Kaliningrad.
They want nuclear war.
UPDATE 8:58 AM EDT —
“The UN needs to rectify the situation with the blockade of Kaliningrad, or Russia will be free to resolve the issue of transit in any way“– the head of the Russian Federation Commission for the Protection of Sovereignty Klimov.
(REMARK: This is almost identical to the wording used by Russia about resolving Security Guarantees, before it entered Ukraine. Clearly, this remark is meant to warn Lithuania (and the world) that Russia will resort to armed force to open the Kaliningrad embargo.)
UPDATE 10:27 AM EDT —
Senator Klimov: the blockade of Kaliningrad by Lithuania can be regarded as direct aggression
If the European Union does not correct the “impudent trick” of Lithuania, which banned the transit of almost half of the cargo to the Kaliningrad region, then Brussels itself will disavow the legitimacy of the documents on Lithuanian membership in the EU for Russia and thus “untie its hands” to solve the problem of Kaliningrad transit “by any means.”
Brief Recap with historical notes:
Kaliningrad’s governor Alikhanov has already called on Russian federal authorities to prepare tit-for-tat measures against Lithuania in wake of the transit ban.
Alikhanov cited a key condition in the 2004 agreement that was part of Lithuania’s accession to the EU:
“that the Baltic state will apply in practice the principle of freedom of transit of goods, including energy, between the Kaliningrad Region and the rest of Russian territory.”
“In particular, we confirm that there shall be freedom of such transit, and that the goods in such transit shall not be subject to unnecessary delays or restrictions and shall be exempt from customs duties and transit duties or other charges related to transit,”
Then, in April…
When the EU first proposed the blockage of goods as part of the last major sanctions package in early April, Kremlin officials warned of war given Moscow would have to “break the blockade” for the sake if its citizens.
“I think that for now, this is a game, testing the waters <…>.
In case of a blockade, as they are saying, the Soviet Union knows how to break the blockades, we (Russia as the successor of the Soviet Union – TASS) have vast experience,” the senator said.
“If they want to go to the length of making us break this blockade to save the lives of our people, who live there, we can do this,”
Ahead of the new Lithuanian transit ban taking effect, the state railways service was reportedly ‘awaiting final word’ from the European Commission.
then Brussels ruled that:
“sanctioned goods and cargo should still be prohibited even if they travel from one part of Russia to another but through EU territory,”
In Moscow’s eyes, this is tantamount to laying economic siege to part of Russia’s sovereign territory and one million of its citizens.
Where do wars and fights among you come from? Do they not come from your lusts that war in your body? You lust and do not have, so you kill. You desire to have and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have, because you do not ask. You ask, and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your passions. You adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:1-4 Modern English Version)