Jun 21, 2022
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Moscow has several solutions to break the blockade of Kaliningrad

Moscow summoned EU Ambassador to Russia Markus Ederer to the Foreign Ministry. The reason for this was the decision of Lithuania not to allow cargoes that fell under EU sanctions to Kaliningrad from the territory of the rest of Russia. These are, for example, fuel and building materials. Russia is still trying to solve the problem by diplomatic means. However, calls are already being made to break through the land corridor to Kaliningrad through Lithuania by military means.

Moscow in the next few days will conduct a “deep analysis” of Lithuania’s decision to stop the transit of goods between the Kaliningrad region and the rest of Russia, and response measures will be developed based on the results of the analysis. This was announced on Monday by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

The Federation Council has already proposed a tough response to Vilnius. “The European Union, if it does not immediately correct the impudent trick of Vilnius, will itself disavow for us the legitimacy of all documents on Lithuania’s membership in the EU and will untie our hands to solve the problem of Kaliningrad transit created by Lithuania by any means we choose,” wrote on Monday in his Telegram channel Senator Andrey Klimov, head of the Upper House Commission for the Protection of Russia’s State Sovereignty.

Last Saturday, the Kaliningrad Railway received a notification from Lithuanian colleagues about the termination of transit to Kaliningrad of goods that fell under EU sanctions. Up to 50% of the range of goods, including building materials, metals and, most importantly, fuel: coal, gasoline, diesel, is banned from being transported through Lithuania. True, the Lithuanian side assured that all Russian transit loaded before June 17 will pass through the territory of the republic, which was announced on Monday by Russia’s Charge d’Affaires in Lithuania Sergey Ryabokon. Then comes what the diplomat called a partial blockade of the Russian exclave.

In practice, the problem created by the Lithuanians began to be overcome, as announced on Monday by the governor of the Kaliningrad region Anton Alikhanov. According to him, those goods from the region that did not fall under EU anti-Russian sanctions will continue to go to greater Russia by rail. Thus, ferries plying in the Baltic between the Kaliningrad and Leningrad regions will be released for the sanctions cargo. Already on June 25, the new, fifth vessel will be ready to enter the ferry line from St. Petersburg – it is planned to deliver cargo to Baltiysk and Kaliningrad, Alikhanov informed. Ferries that run between Baltiysk in the Kaliningrad region and Ust-Luga (Leningrad region), bypassing other countries, can carry any cargo except radioactive, the press service of Oboronlogistics reported. No shortage of goods is expected in the region, the authorities have worked out all possible delivery options, Alikhanov assured.

“While there is a dispute between Moscow and Vilnius over whether the goods are extraterritorial in nature, Russia will have to transport goods by sea,” said economist Vasily Koltashov. – Operators and regional authorities make it clear that there will be no problems here. I think that there are enough vessels in Russia, and if necessary, more can be purchased. But the thing is different – this will lead to a significant rise in the cost of goods, since now it will be necessary to deliver goods by rail to the port, then transport them by ferry to the port of Kaliningrad and then deliver them again from the port.

The residents of the Russian exclave themselves are most afraid of a shortage of goods “due to the lack of logistics before new transport chains in the Baltic are mastered,” Kaliningrad political scientist Alexander Nosovich wrote on his Telegram channel. “In fact, everything is calm with us,” the regional expert notes. – There is no panic. I did not notice it either among acquaintances or passers-by, and even the Kaliningrad media write about the transit ban less than one might expect. There is anxiety, but an alarming background for the region, which is sandwiched between the two most hostile NATO countries towards Russia, is the norm.”

The problem of supplying the region is being solved, but the fact remains that Vilnius is imposing a blockade, clearly breaking the previous agreements between Russia and the European Union: when the Baltic state joins the EU, to guarantee the preservation of transit traffic between the Kaliningrad exclave and the rest of Russia. Governor Alikhanov, in particular, reminded the Baltic neighbors of this. The partnership and cooperation agreements between Russia and the EU of June 24, 1994 directly imply an obligation to “ensure the free transit of goods through their territory,” said Konstantin Kosachev, vice speaker of the Federation Council.

Vilnius, for its part, claims that it is acting solely in pursuance of anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the European Union. The rather sly statement of the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, was also sustained in the same spirit. “Lithuania is not to blame for anything, it … is following the instructions of the European Commission. We will check positively that all these instructions are correct,” said the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs. At the same time, Borrell stressed that there is no blockade of Kaliningrad, because “only the transportation of those goods, the export, import and transit of which through the EU territory is prohibited, has been stopped.”

“The European Union has been in need of repair for a long time, so we can start doing it by modifying some structures in its eastern part,” said Andrey Kolesnik, State Duma deputy from Kaliningrad. According to the parliamentarian, “Lithuania should be ignored as a state and do what we need.” “In fact, in vain, we initially ceded airspace to them and began to fly not through their territory, but around. And they considered it a weakness and began to climb further on the neck. In general, if it suits Russia’s interests, push through the railway line through Lithuania by force, break through the corridor,” the interlocutor emphasized.

Kaliningrad political scientist Nosovich believes that in response to the blockade of Kaliningrad, Russia may denounce the 2003 border treaty with the Republic of Lithuania – and thus the borders of Lithuania will be de jure in limbo. The expert recalls that the borders of the Baltic Republic in their current form appeared after it became part of the USSR in 1940, while modern Lithuania considers itself the legal successor of the pre-war Lithuanian Republic of 1918-1940. “The mentioned borders include … a strip of land between the Kaliningrad region and Belarus,” Nosovich said. The political scientist refers to the opinion of the professor of Kaliningrad University named after Kant Alexander Zolov, who recalls that part of the territories were transferred from the Byelorussian SSR to the Lithuanian SSR. “And now the question. Do Lithuanians at least roughly realize what they are getting into by agreeing to participate in this bullshit between the West and Russia?” Nosovich added.

According to Koltashov, Russia could start by recording and counting all additional expenses from the first day and then billing Lithuania. “Considering that the resulting economic damage will be inflicted on several million people, the bill may turn out to be one that Lithuania will never be able to cover.

This, in turn, may well cause mass protests by Lithuanians, since they already perceive very negatively the participation of the country’s authorities in the sanctions attack on Russia,” he said.

The analyst added that the last stage of all events in this dispute could be a military solution by Russia. “Moscow is quite right to say that the blockade of Kaliningrad violates all major international norms. Therefore, Russia may decide by military force to break through the railway corridor through Lithuania, taking control of the branches along which the delivery of goods to the westernmost Russian region, as well as the decision-making centers in Vilnius, so that no goods cross. And here there is no difference anymore – NATO is not NATO, the EU is not the EU. In fact, only such a response from Moscow will be adequate to the impudent behavior of an extremely insignificant state, and besides, it is completely dependent on the US and the EU in terms of legal personality and decision-making,” the source said.

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