Russia vows to respond to Lithuania’s ban on goods transit

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MOSCOW — Lithuania’s decision to bar Moscow from shipping certain goods by rail to Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad will result in a response that will have a “significant negative impact” on the Lithuanian people, a top Russian security official said Tuesday.

The ban on goods subject to European Union sanctions was announced by Lithuanian authorities earlier this month and prompted a flurry of angry retorts from Moscow, with the Kremlin denouncing the move as unprecedented and unlawful.

Nikolai Patrushev, the powerful secretary of the Kremlin’s Security Council, visited the Kaliningrad region on Tuesday and vowed during a national security meeting to take action over the ban.

“Russia will definitely respond to such hostile actions,” Patrushev said. They will have a significant negative impact on the population of Lithuania.” Their consequences will have a significant negative impact on the population of Lithuania.”

He didn’t elaborate on what action Russia might take. His office stated that Patrushev would report to President Vladimir Putin on the results of his visit to Kaliningrad.

Separately, the Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday summoned the European Union ambassador to Russia, Markus Ederer, and “expressed a resolute protest” over the transit ban. The ministry said in a statement that it “demanded an immediate resumption of the normal operation” of the transit, otherwise “retaliatory measures will follow.”

Kaliningrad, home to some 430,000 people, is isolated from the rest of Russia and borders EU members Lithuania and Poland. Kaliningrad is served by trains that transport goods via Lithuania and Belarus. There’s no transit to Poland for these trains. Russia is still able to supply the exclave via sea, but it will not be subject to EU sanctions.

The Lithuanian government stressed in a written statement Tuesday that “the transit of passengers and non-sanctioned goods to and from the Kaliningrad region through Lithuania continues uninterrupted,” and that the ban on transit of sanctioned goods was merely part the fourth package of EU sanctions against Russia.

Top Lithuanian officials decried Russia’s reaction to the measure as an attempt by the Kremlin to wind up a propaganda campaign trying to create an image of a “blockade” mainly for internal consumption.

Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas tweeted Monday that “European countries may continue to be intimidated by Russia” … but “let’s not lose the ability to separate disinformation and propaganda from real possibilities.”

The country’s prime minister, Ingrida Simonyte, rejected claims about the blockade of Kaliningrad is a product of Kremlin propaganda.

“It’s just that EU sanctions have come into force on some of the goods included in the package, namely steel and ferrous metals. “The transportation of any other goods, which are either not sanctioned or have not been subject to sanctions, is still being done.” she stated, noting that Russia has repeatedly referred to international treaties as a great irony.

“I don’t know if there’s any international treaty left that Russia hasn’t violated yet,” Simonyte said.

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