On Monday, Russian authorities threatened to retaliate against NATO member Lithuania if it did not quickly lift a ban on the transport of certain goods by train to the Baltic region of Kaliningrad.
Citing EU instructions, Lithuania’s Railways on Friday said it would stop moving goods from EU – approved Russia.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry S. Peskov told reporters the situation was “serious”. He called the new regulations “an element of the siege” and “a violation of everything” in the region.
Authorities in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, accustomed to Russian threats, took Moscow’s warnings as a major upheaval – the latest in a series of exaggerated reports of a country being severely militarily extended by the invasion of Ukraine.
“We are not particularly concerned about the Russian threats,” said Louinas Casinas, chairman of the National Security and Security Council of the Lithuanian parliament. “There are very few options on how to retaliate against the Kremlin.”
Russia’s military response was, “Lithuania is not a member of NATO. If this is not the case, they will consider it.”
Russia’s outrage in Lithuania follows a warning by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Gelensky on Monday that Moscow would respond to its efforts to join the European Union by launching “more hostile operations” against Ukraine and European countries in the coming days.
Up to 50 percent of all rail freight sent between Russia’s mainland and the Kaliningrad region – along with other materials, including construction materials, concrete and metals, will be affected by the ban announced last week, Russian officials said. These restrictions exposed the severe impact of the region, which is part of Russia but not connected to the rest of the country. It borders the Baltic Sea, but lies between two NATO members, Lithuania and Poland.
In the 1990s, Russian authorities promoted Kaliningrad’s past relations with Germany as a travelogue, celebrating its role in the life and work of the 18th century German philosopher Emmanuel Kant, who was born and lived in the regional capital, now Kaliningrad.
More recently, however, Moscow has sought to erase traces of Germany’s deep historical ties – although Germany has not claimed ownership of Kaliningrad and is not interested in retrieving it, it is in stark contrast to Russia’s views of the former Soviet Union. Including Ukraine.
Captured by increasingly aggressive nationalism, Russia abandoned its policies of promoting Russia as part of Europe and drove advanced Iskander missiles into the city of Kaliningrad. Lithuania’s defense minister said in April that Russia had deployed nuclear weapons in the region, which Moscow denied.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Monday called Lithuania’s top ambassador “openly hostile” to the sanctions.
“Russia has the right to take action to protect its national interests if freight traffic between the Kaliningrad region and other parts of the Russian Federation via Lithuania is not fully restored in the future,” the ministry said. In a statement.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabriel Landsbergis supported the export restrictions to Kaliningrad, saying his country only complies with the terms of EU sanctions.
“Lithuania did nothing, only European sanctions began to work,” he said Told reporters Ahead of a meeting of European foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday.
Anton Alikanov, Governor of Kaliningrad, Said His government was already working to find alternative ways of exporting goods, especially those containing metals and construction materials. Moving cargo by sea is an option, he said, adding that up to seven ships will be needed to meet demand by the end of the year.
He said the local government was considering at least three retaliatory options proposed to the Kremlin, including a possible ban on sending goods to Lithuanian ports via Russia.
Russia’s relations with Lithuania, formerly part of the Soviet Union, have not been close, but have not been dramatically drained in recent months, as Lithuania has taken the lead in pushing for tougher EU sanctions against Russia over its occupation of Ukraine.
Two weeks ago, Mr. A Russian parliamentarian from Putin’s United Russia party has introduced a bill declaring Lithuania’s 1990 Declaration of Independence illegal. The bill aims to reverse the dissolution of the Soviet Union, calling it “the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.”
But, as shown by the stagnant progress of Russian troops in Ukraine, Mr. There is a yawning gap between Putin’s desire to go back in history and his country’s capabilities. Any military action against Lithuania would bring Russia’s already attacked army into direct confrontation with NATO.
Thomas Topcus Contributed report from Vilnius.