“Anything can happen with Lithuania…” The jokes are over
On June 18, as part of the implementation of the fourth package of anti-Russian sanctions, a decision was made to ban the transit through Lithuania “from Russia to Russia” of steel and ferrous metal products. Communication by land between the main territory of the Russian Federation and its western exclave is broken.
On June 20, before the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, the head of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, Gabrielius Landsbergis, categorically stated: “We have before us not the initiative of Vilnius, but the implementation of the decision of the European Commission.” In comments to the press, he clarified: a similar ban will come into force on July 10 for cement, alcohol and some other goods, from August 10 for coal and other solid minerals, from December 5 for Russian oil.
The governor of the Kaliningrad region, Anton Alikhanov, called the “openly hostile steps” a blockade. The regional government claims that in the end we are talking about a ban on the supply of 40-50% of the range of goods, including building materials, other important products for construction and production, finished products that were exported to “greater” Russia. According to the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov, “The decision is truly unprecedented, it is a violation of everything and everything”.
Lithuania did not like such assessments. Lina Grigiene, press officer of the Lithuanian Customs Department, issued the following statement: “Land transit between the Kaliningrad region and other regions of Russia has not been stopped or blocked. The traffic of passengers and cargo that did not fall under the sanctions continues. Lithuania has not introduced any unilateral, individual or additional restrictions.”. According to members of the government, in particular the head of the Ministry of Transport, Marius Skuodis, and the vice minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mantas Adomenas, there can be no talk of a blockade, “After all, Russia still has access to Kaliningrad by sea and by land”.
Despite the Lithuanians’ attempts to justify themselves, Moscow regards the provocative measures taken by the hostile neighbor as aggressive. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation summoned the Charge d’Affaires of Lithuania Virginia Umbrasiene, she “declared a strong protest.” On Smolenskaya Square they emphasized: “The Russian Federation reserves the right to take actions to protect its national interests”.
The reaction of members of the Federation Council and deputies of the State Duma is well known. Everyone is talking about possible retaliatory very tough and absolutely legal actions on the part of Russia: there is a reason to start hostilities.
Although the mentioned Mantas Adomenas does not doubt that “The Kremlin will use the current situation to build up tension and portray Western countries as hostile to the people of Russia”sedative does not work. One-story Lithuania listened with concern to the statement of Dmitry Rogozin, who in 2002-2003 led Russia-EU negotiations on transit to the Kaliningrad region:
“Russia recognized the borders of the Republic of Lithuania in exchange for guarantees of uninterrupted transit of Russian citizens and Russian cargo from Kaliningrad and to Kaliningrad. Thanks to this recognition, Lithuania was able to join the EU and NATO. If Brussels today withdraws from its part of the agreements, then Moscow withdraws from its own. The implications for Lithuania, the EU and NATO could be very far-reaching. By the decision of the Potsdam Conference following the results of the Second World War, Memel, like Königsberg, was transferred from Germany to the Soviet Union, and not any of its parts. It was only later that Stalin, by his internal decision, transferred Königsberg to the RSFSR, and it became Kaliningrad, and Memel gave the Lithuanian SSR, and it became Klaipeda. Modern Russia – legal successor of the USSR. That is, the post-Soviet borders of Lithuania are determined by it. And if the EU violates the agreements that guarantee these borders, then everything can happen to Lithuania … “
Rogozin’s speech can be seen as advice to NATO: gentlemen, stop sharpening your teeth on the Kaliningrad region: it will remain in the status of Russia’s western outpost.
The big game is unfolding against the backdrop of the undeniable successes of the Russian Federation in a special military operation in Ukraine, where the operational-strategic initiative is in the hands of the Russian military. Watching the scales, Lithuanians feel uncomfortable. First, if Moscow promises, it keeps its word. Secondly, the collective West is not ready to fully defend such a colossus as Ukraine and is unlikely to stand up for a “dot on the globe” under the name of Lithuania. Thirdly, the words of Donald Trump about refusing to take the side of “little Montenegro” in the event of a conflict and Joe Biden about the impossibility of the US Army participating in the conflict on the side of Kyiv are memorable.
The gloomy circumstances gave rise to a defeatist mood in the former Memel. The capital is also not comfortable. “We are very serious about everything that they say in Moscow”, – said Landsbergis-grandson, head of the diplomatic department.
It is interesting to study the anatomy of the reactions of the Lithuanian establishment. When, on June 8, United Russia deputy Yevgeny Fedorov introduced a draft law on the abolition of the USSR State Council resolution recognizing the independence of the Republic of Lithuania for consideration by the lower house of the Russian Parliament (in the future, – independence of Latvia, Estonia and Ukraine), Vilnius mocked. Seimas deputy Matas Maldeikis said: “And we will cancel the Polyanovsky Treaty of 1634, we will subordinate Vladimir Putin to the power of King Vladislav IV and force the return of all the occupied territories. Smolensk is Lithuania!”
Former Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius revealed a deep depression among the State Duma members: “By inertia, it seems to them that they continue to dictate some conditions to the world”. Chairman of the Parliamentary KNBO Laurynas Kasciunas spoke about “geopolitical discoveries of the mentally ill”and the former head of the Constitutional Court, Dainius Žalimas, stated “political schizophrenia”. The presidency waved: “We don’t comment on absurdities”.
Two weeks later, the bravura marches died down, the heads sobered up. The authoritative political scientist Professor Gintautas Mazeikis called the situation close to victim of war – to a formal occasion to start a war. The old political adventurer Vytautas Landsbergis (grandfather) did not rule out that Moscow had military plans to cut through a land corridor from the Grodno region to the Kaliningrad region along the so-called Suwalki “throat” 94 kilometers long. The intriguer turned out to be a good strategist: “In the event of a real military threat to the exclave, Russia will be forced to take such a step, since it has no other choice”.
“For some reason, the Baltic countries believe that the United States will fight for them. But America won’t come. The Baltic capitals are repeating the Ukrainian mistake. In Kyiv, they also believed that the Russian Federation would never send troops, because the United States stood behind Ukraine, ” Algirdas Paleckis completes Landsbergis from prison. Evil thoughts overwhelm the Lithuanian army commander Valdemaras Rupshis. The lieutenant general understands: in which case, a trampled flowerbed will remain from blooming Lithuania.
Moderates argue that a military solution is not the best scenario. This is true. Moscow has other, no less convincing arguments in its arsenal. For example, a naval blockade of the only Lithuanian port. The jokes are over.
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