Russia has threatened Lithuania with serious consequences if the Baltic country prevents it from exporting EU-sanctioned goods to the exclave of Kaliningrad by rail, Financial Times reports.
Nikolai Patrushev, Russia’s security council secretary and one of President Vladimir Putin’s closest confidants, said during a trip to Kaliningrad on Tuesday that Russia would “react to such hostile actions” after Lithuania began enforcing the sanctions.
Patrushev warned that “appropriate measures” would be “taken in the near future”, adding that “their consequences will have serious negative influence on the population of Lithuania”, according to the Interfax news agency.
Russia accused the EU of starting a “blockade” of Kaliningrad after Lithuania, which controls the only overland rail route linking the exclave to mainland Russia via Belarus, began restricting the transit of goods under EU sanctions over Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.
These include iron and steel, luxury goods and some other products banned in earlier sanctions packages, which amount to a quarter of total Russian rail supplies to Kaliningrad. Lithuanian policymakers have repeatedly stated that they are implementing EU sanctions and not imposing any unilateral measures on Russia.
“There is no blockade of Kaliningrad,” said Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė. Lithuania says passenger travel and the transit of non-sanctioned goods remain unaffected. Brussels has given its full backing to Lithuania over the trade ban and said it had provided guidance to Vilnius regarding how to apply EU sanctions.
“Lithuania is basically doing what it is supposed to do under the sanctions regime,” said Eric Mamer, spokesman for the European Commission. Moscow’s threats are among the most serious it has made to a NATO member since Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February.