What will the “blockade of Kaliningrad” lead to?

What will the

On June 17, Lithuania notified Russia that it would stop rail transit across the border of a number of Russian goods that are under EU sanctions. Thus, up to 50% of goods supplied to the Kaliningrad semi-exclave, including construction materials and metals, were banned.

The Russian Federation Council began to threaten Lithuania that if “the EU does not immediately correct the situation, then the Russian Federation will have hands are untied to resolve the issue by any means.” Also, representatives of the Russian authorities call the actions of Lithuania “a complete blockade of Kaliningrad”.

The list of goods whose transit from the territory of Russia to the territory of its semi-exclave is prohibited is determined by the latest edition of the regulation of the Council of the European Union. It contains a ban on the import, transfer or transportation of products made of iron, steel and certain other metals, as well as caviar, alcohol, fertilizers, timber and wood products, glass containers and cement. Quotas have been set for the transportation of fertilizers. From August 10, a ban on the transportation of coal will come into force, from December 5 – oil, from February 5 next year – oil products.

Russia's response

In Russia, of course, “burns” on this issue. The governor of the Kaliningrad region, Anton Alikhanov, announced that this was “an attempt to stifle our region economically.” Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the decision of Vilnius is unprecedented, it is “a violation of everything and everything.”

Andrey Klishas, ​​Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation, was far less restrained: “Lithuania's attempt to establish a virtual blockade of the Kaliningrad region is a violation of Russia's sovereignty over this region and may be the basis for very tough and absolutely legal actions.”

Because of this, Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev even came to the Kaliningrad region on June 21 for a meeting on national security in the north-west of Russia.

And in its classical style, Moscow began to intimidate its neighbors. The Russian Baltic Fleet has begun live-fire exercises in the Kaliningrad region. About 1,000 military personnel and over 100 units of military equipment will take part in them. It is noted that gunners and missilemen will have to perform several hundred fire missions using Grad and Uragan MLRS, Giacint large-caliber guns, and Msta-S, Akatsiya and Gvozdika self-propelled artillery mounts.

The reaction of Ukraine and the EU: there is no danger

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba recalled that Russia has no one to blame for the current situation, but itself. “The Russian Federation has no right to threaten Lithuania. Moscow has only itself to blame for the consequences of an unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. We welcome the principled position of Lithuania and firmly support our Lithuanian friends,” Dmitry Kuleba said.

But the EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, does not yet predict a new round of serious tension in relations with the Russian Federation due to the cessation of transit to the Kaliningrad region .

“You cannot compare the situation in Kaliningrad with the situation in Ukraine for the world community. The situation in Kaliningrad will not affect the rest of the world, but the rest of the world is affected by the situation that is unfolding in Ukraine,” Borrell said.

There will be an economic war

This conflict is unlikely to have serious consequences will lead, since the possibilities of Russia in the Lithuanian direction are rather limited. In addition, the military option in the context of ongoing aggression against Ukraine is fraught with a conflict with NATO.

Therefore, most likely, Russia will respond with economic measures. The governor of the Kaliningrad region, Anton Alikhanov, allowed a counter ban on transit. “Let's open the map and see where they can carry the goods that are delivered to their ports. If we exclude transit through the territory of the Russian Federation, then their competitiveness will not only drop significantly, but simply reset to zero,” he said. And State Duma deputy from United Russia Oleg Morozov suggested introducing a sanctions ban on all Lithuanian goods, as well as suspending energy traffic from Belarus.

– Judging by the reaction of the Russians, this is a very painful step for them. But despite their threats, there is no military danger for Lithuania. First, Russia cannot disperse its forces against the backdrop of military failures in Ukraine. And besides this, Lithuania is a member of NATO, which means that it is too tough for Moscow. So the conflict is likely to take place in the logistical and economic planes, predicts political scientist Vadim Karasev.

Western media

The Guardian:

“Panic began in Kaliningrad over the weekend after regional authorities announced that Lithuania was preparing to close rail and gas links with Russia. Sandwiched between Lithuania to the north and east and Poland to the south, Kaliningrad is about 800 miles (1,300 km) from Moscow and relies on rail for most of its supplies. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Vilnius should reverse the “clearly hostile” move.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that Moscow was spreading false information and that the state railway service was acting legally, simply complying with the EU sanctions regime, which prohibits the supply of steel or iron ore products to Russia.

The Washington Post:

“The Kaliningrad exclave, which has about 430,000 people, is surrounded by Lithuania and Poland, another EU country to the south, and isolated from the rest of Russia. Trains with goods for Kaliningrad run through Belarus and Lithuania. There is no transit through Poland. Russia can still supply the exclave by sea without violating EU sanctions.

Kaliningrad, where the Russian Baltic Fleet is based, is Russia's only ice-free Baltic port. Moscow has also stationed nuclear-capable Iskander missiles there.”

Financial Times:

“Moscow threatened to retaliate against Lithuania after the Baltic state halted rail transportation of Russian goods to Kaliningradsky exclave under EU sanctions. Kaliningrad Oblast Governor Anton Alikhanov said the province could ship sanctioned goods across the Baltic Sea, but said the additional costs would make transit economically unviable.

KP Note

The Kaliningrad Oblast is a Russian semi-exclave that does not have a common land border with the main territory of the country, but has access to the sea. Koenigsberg (Kaliningrad) became Russian in 1946, when, after the end of World War II, part of the German territory was transferred to the USSR.

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