Kaliningrad residents regret Lithuania’s ban on transit to Russian enclave

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Kaliningrad region Residents sandwiched between EU and NATO members Poland and Lithuania, expressed fear and regret over Lithuania’s transit ban announced on Monday.

“Construction works will stop. Development of roads. It’s all only going to get worse. I think many people will lose their jobs, because there is no other option,” said one Kaliningrad resident, who refuse to give his name to Reuters, but said that he already has plans to leave the region because of strengthening European sanctions. 

Urging citizens not to resort to panic buying, representative of Kaliningrad region Government Dmitry Lyskov said to Reuters that two vessels were already ferrying goods between Kaliningrad and Saint Petersburg, and seven more would be in service by the end of the year.

“We can reroute the resources released on logistics of sanctioned goods, to transportation of the unsanctioned goods, ” Lyskov said. 

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. 

The EU sanctions list notably includes coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology, and Alikhanov said the ban would cover around 50 percent 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.

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”.

Russia warned NATO member Lithuania on Monday that unless the transit of goods to Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea was swiftly restored then Moscow would take undisclosed measures to defend its national interests.

With east-west relations at a half-century low over Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Vilnius banned the transit of goods sanctioned by the European Union through Lithuanian territory to and from the exclave, citing EU sanction rules.

Kaliningrad is 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.

via Reuters

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