Dispute over Kaliningrad transit: Moscow threatens Lithuania with retaliation

Status: 06/22/2022 3:57 p.m

Russia has threatened “practical” retaliation in a dispute with Lithuania over transit restrictions to Kaliningrad. Lithuania said it was prepared for Moscow’s measures. The federal government warns.

The Russian leadership has once again criticized the transit restrictions for the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad, which belongs to Russia but lies between EU countries Poland and Lithuania, and threatened “practical” retaliatory measures: A response would “not be in the diplomatic sphere, but in the practical sphere”. , if the EU does not lift its restrictions, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova threatened in a press briefing.

The Kremlin also spoke up again: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that the transit restrictions contradict “the basic documents” of the partnership between the EU and Russia. The 1994 partnership agreement provides for free transit of goods, he said. A reaction is being prepared. He did not give details of possible countermeasures and when.

Lithuania on Saturday banned the transit of goods on the EU sanctions list across its territory. According to Kaliningrad Governor Anton Alikhanov, the restrictions, which he described as a “blockade,” affect 40 to 50 percent of transit between core Russia and Kaliningrad. Among other things, no cement, building materials or metals can now be brought overland to the Russian Baltic Sea region. In Kaliningrad, therefore, hamster purchases for individual product groups have already started.

Lithuania: Prepared for Russian action

According to President Gitanas Nauseda, Lithuania is prepared for the threatened Russian retaliatory measures. This includes excluding Lithuania from the joint power grid with Russia, Nauseda told the Reuters news agency. He doesn’t expect a military confrontation with Russia because Lithuania is part of NATO.

The head of Russia’s National Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, announced retaliatory measures with “serious negative consequences for the people of Lithuania”. Nauseda says Russia is “presumptuously threatening” Lithuania. He will address the conflict over Kaliningrad at the NATO summit next week.

Federal government warns Moscow against measures that violate international law

The federal government warned Moscow against countermeasures that violate international law. “We call on Russia not to take any measures that violate international law,” said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

Hebestreit pointed out that Lithuania’s actions are within the framework of the EU sanctions decisions. The transit of certain sanctioned goods through Lithuania to Kaliningrad is prohibited, but persons and non-sanctioned goods are not affected by the ban, the government spokesman emphasized. “We therefore clearly reject countermeasures announced by Russia,” he emphasized.

Moscow accuses Berlin of “anti-Russian hysteria.”

Against the background of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, the tone between Moscow and Berlin has intensified again in recent days. The Russian government accused the federal government of fomenting “anti-Russian hysteria”. Berlin is endangering “decades of efforts by Russia and Germany to overcome post-war hostility.”

On the occasion of the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow declared that members of the German government were “fomenting anti-Russian hysteria with almost daily attacks on our country”. An “anti-Russian propaganda campaign” is currently being carried out in Germany. This led to an “unreasonable aggression bordering on mass psychosis” against Russians and Russian-speaking people in Germany.

The Foreign Ministry also accused NATO member Germany of expanding its military presence on Russia’s western borders. This “evokes memories of the most bitter times in Russian-German relations for our people, including the events preceding May 1945”.

Scholz: NATO partners in the east can rely on Germany

Chancellor Olaf Scholz meanwhile again assured the eastern NATO partners of Germany’s full alliance solidarity. “We will defend every square meter of alliance territory,” said the SPD politician in a government statement based on his speech in the Bundestag immediately after Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February.

From their own history, the Germans know what they owe this promise, said Scholz. “And that’s why our NATO partners in Eastern Europe can rely on Germany today. We’re going to the NATO summit next week with this promise.”

Germany does not just leave it at words, emphasized Scholz. Immediately after the start of the war, additional soldiers and military capabilities such as air defense were transferred to the eastern alliance area. An agreement had been reached with Lithuania to permanently strengthen the German presence there and to assign a robust Bundeswehr brigade to the country. Germany will also expand its presence with air and naval forces in the Baltic Sea region and is in the process of sending soldiers to Slovakia to secure the airspace.

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