On June 18, the Lithuanian authorities stopped the transit of sanctioned goods to Kaliningrad. Under the ban got up to half of the cargo. We talked to the residents of Kaliningrad about how they are preparing for life in the blockade.
Anatoly is a former military man. Lives in Kaliningrad. The man does not lose optimism, but admits that he regrets his past life, when he calmly rode to Europe for the weekend.
We started talking about cement, which, according to rumors, can no longer be bought in the city.
“The cement was sold out in one day, artificially created a stir,” says Anatoly. “Concrete is nowhere to be found this week either. It seems that they planned to bring him to Friday, but this is not certain. And at what price is unknown. In recent days, the cost of a 50 kg bag of concrete has risen from 540 rubles to 790. Let’s see what happens next.
Metal was also transported by wagons. So, it won’t be.
The manufacturing sector will definitely be affected by this situation. The queue for orders is huge. Supply disruptions are inevitable until logistics is rebuilt and the track runs in. Small businesses will suffer the most, as always in Russia.
Although Avtotor, where foreign cars were produced, will not stand aside either. Their main mode of delivery was via railroads. They also wrote in the news that the metalworking plant had suspended production, because they stopped importing copper raw materials. According to rumors, some concrete plants got up.
But our region was decently rebuilt according to the state program, the private sector and commercial real estate developed. The consumption of concrete was huge. Now there is no cement, no concrete. Another nuance is that housing has been built, and real estate sales have fallen dozens of times. Prices have gone up. For our region, 5-6 million rubles for an apartment is a lot of money, with an average salary of 20-35 thousand.
What is this, flying into the abyss?
You are somewhat pessimistic. Difficult times produce strong people. A lot of things can happen in life, everything should be considered as an experience. I am sure that state facilities will be built, however, with a delay. But the construction of the private sector may stop. Materials simply will not reach them.
The economy is a small ecosystem. Small fluctuations will affect other areas along the chain. We have a lot of people who are engaged in finishing, building houses, fences, metal structures. The kids are going to have a hard time.
Personally, I am not afraid of the economic crisis. By the way, while we are talking, the authorities of the region said that there would be no problems with cement.
– Aren’t you afraid if gas problems start in the city?
– The gas terminal was built in the city of Pionersky. They assure that the Kaliningrad region will be fully supplied with gas, but it seems to me that it is possible to provide only partially. Here the question is different: what will be the price for this gas.
– Tourists will also not go to you anymore?
– In Kaliningrad, the tourism sector is dead. The industry has sunk. That year, 100,000 people came a month, and this year, God forbid, 60,000 will be typed. Yes, and it has become expensive in our area. Café prices have gone up. But, as a rule, state employees fly to us, people don’t have much money. Wealthy citizens prefer to rest in Turkey, Spain, Italy.
In Kaliningrad, there used to be an advantage – proximity to Europe, so we went here. Personally, I rented cars to tourists. People rode around Europe. And a huge number of such people gathered in the summer. 50 kilometers – and you are in Lithuania or Poland.
We ourselves went to Lithuania for the weekend. Rest turned out to be a contrast. Today you are in Kaliningrad, tomorrow in Lithuania, the day after tomorrow you are in Poland, then the Czech Republic, then Germany. From Kaliningrad to Berlin is only 700 km.
– And for the goods, probably, went to Europe?
– Of course. Before the introduction of the euro in Lithuania, spare parts for cars were bought there. Then they switched to Poland, where they took household appliances, clothes, building materials, used spare parts. I personally brought from there a gas boiler, two TVs, two beds, radiators, carpet, a microwave, a kettle, you can’t list everything. And, of course, they bought groceries.
“So you can go now.
Now it’s hard to get a visa. And I would not dare to go with my family on Russian numbers
— Europeans went to Kaliningrad?
– Rarely. And after 2014, there were practically no tourists from Europe at all.
Is there panic in the city?
— Panic is not characteristic of Kaliningraders. We have always lived separately from the country and depended on the borders. But many are leaving the city.
Olga is a native of Kaliningrad. The interviewer spoke about her concerns.
– While representatives of the construction business are panicking. Thank God, the products were not included in the sanctions list, so we will continue to transport them by trucks through land checkpoints,” says Olga. – It seems that there is still enough in the shops, although people have concerns.
Our trucks began to deploy immediately on June 18. Basically, those who transported metal, ferrous metal products were not let through – these goods have been under sanctions since April 9. The main product will be banned for transportation from July 10. There will be shoes, clothes, furniture and much more. Titles on 66 pages.
Did you bring food from Europe?
— Products were mainly brought from Poland. But building materials, cosmetics and household chemicals come from Lithuania and Poland. In general, trade relations with our neighbors were closely connected with us.
But Poland has not let us in for a long time. Only a certain category of citizens can travel to them, with the permission of the commandant, you need to request transit. Lithuania still allows passenger cars on simplified transit visas without any problems.
But the clearance of trucks is very slow, they create queues at the borders.
Another important point. Lithuanians stopped issuing visas to drivers. The guys are forced to work on a simplified transit document – a type of visa that requires them to leave the territory of Lithuania within 24 hours. On a passenger car, you can still turn around in a day, but not on a truck. You can stand in line for up to 15 days. Schengen is not issued to anyone now. Drivers were the exception, who received a work visa. Now they are also cut off oxygen. In the spring, the EU banned our carriers from operating in Europe.
— As I understand it, there are not enough ferries to solve the problem?
– The queue for the ferry to leave Kaliningrad is scheduled 2-3 months in advance. There is not enough water transport capacity. Previously, after all, no one thought that ferries were needed in large numbers.
The trucks that were deployed these days at the border went to St. Petersburg on a ferry. And there is either a queue for two weeks in advance, or they don’t put cars on the ferry at all, since the priority of cargo now is containers and railway cars. Vehicles will have to survive somehow.
If the ferry line is not established now, then the stocks of goods will last until the end of summer at best. There are only four ferries on the line. The largest accommodates like around 30 trucks plus wagons. The governor promises to put ferries and bulk carriers on the line. Let’s see.
– In winter, ferries still won’t save you.
– Yes, ferries do not run at all during a storm, so I don’t know how we will survive. Delivering goods by plane will be much more expensive. Prices in Kaliningrad are already the highest in Russia, now we are waiting for further price increases.
Galina: “So far, no one really understood anything. Prices have not changed. There is no panic, except in hardware stores.
But the situation there has been difficult since the introduction of the first sanctions. Two months ago, my relatives spent six hours in a construction store to buy cement for the fence. But yesterday a friend looked in, there were no queues, there were goods on the shelves, only the cement was sold out. Resellers have been active all these months, cement is sold twice as expensive on the Internet, there are many offers.
Regarding Lithuania: Covid made its own adjustments a long time ago, tourist and “grocery” trips ended in 2020. The situation is the same with Poland, where many more people traveled.
We expect price increases in the near future, but this is no longer scary. The increase has been regular since March.
In connection with what is happening, more and more people are leaving the region or are considering this option. The other day I talked with a neighbor, they made such a decision.
Regarding the shutdown of gas, for some reason, everyone perceived the information neutrally. Some did not even delve into the essence of the ban – I specifically interviewed colleagues and acquaintances.
I can say that most of the locals who have lived in the region for a long time are in a frozen state. Nobody wants to believe in a bad scenario.”
Denis: “I think that the goods that are on the sanctions list will appear, they will simply be delivered with a delay, and the price will increase.
Kaliningrad is already included in the rating of the most expensive cities in Russia in terms of products and the inaccessibility of housing, even in a mortgage.
Back in February, our people bought everything they needed – canned food, toilet paper, cereals, sugar. There is tension in the city.
Until 2014, there was an abundance of Lithuanian goods in Kaliningrad – clothes, fertilizers, household chemicals, and products, the quality of which is better, and they are cheaper.
Evgeniy: “I often visit our resorts and see that there are less people by half. Over the past couple of years, many restaurants have opened in Kaliningrad, which existed thanks to tourists. Now the hotel apartments are empty. Most likely, it is connected with the insolvency of the population.
Regarding the transit, we were decently squeezed. So far, we do not feel, because there are reserves. But there is a shortage of goods.
The governor believes that the issue will be resolved within a month. It is clear that his words must be divided into two, or even three. Let’s see how the federal center will resolve the issue of transit in terms of maritime traffic. It is possible that logistics will be reorganized, but the rise in prices cannot be stopped.
I work in the construction business. In our field, it is quite difficult, if not critical. Apartments are bought less. I am rescued by clients from Murmansk and Khabarovsk, who bring money here and invest in real estate. I hope they don’t change their mind now.”
Daria: “I bought groceries and consumables back in early March. So many did. I still have everything but butter. Now it makes no sense to stock up on something. Everything has risen in price.
In case of a gas outage, I bought an electric stove. In general, the population does not twitch. Everyone hopes that the government will solve the problem.”