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Lithuania bans transit of sanctioned Russian goods to Kaliningrad, Russia says that's illegal

Christian Fernsby |
Lithuania has begun a ban on the rail transit of goods subject to European Union sanctions to the Russian Kaliningrad.

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The EU sanctions list includes coal, metals, construction materials, and advanced technology.

The cargo unit of Lithuania's state railways service set out details of the ban in a letter to clients following "clarification" from the European Commission on the mechanism for applying the sanctions.

Previously, Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Mantas Adomenas said the ministry was waiting for "clarification from the European Commission on applying European sanctions to Kaliningrad cargo transit."

The commission stated that sanctioned goods and cargo should still be prohibited even if they travel from one part of Russia to another but through EU territory.

Lithuania’s measures banning the transit of some goods from Russian regions through its territory to the Kaliningrad region are illegal and run counter to provisions of the agreement on Lithuania’s accession to the European Union, Governor Anton Alikhanov said in a video address on Saturday.

Alikhanov said earlier that Lithuania’s railways company had notified the railways company of the Kaliningrad region that they would ban the transit from Russia to the region of the goods that are subject to EU sanctions imposed on Moscow.

"These steps are illegal and may entail far-reaching implications for Lithuania and the European Union. In particular, I would like to quote a few paragraphs from the Joint Statement on EU Enlargement, with references to international agreements, the documents which both the European community and the Russian Federation acceded to," Alikhanov said.

Alikhanov pointed out that the signatories to the 2004 agreement on Lithuania’s accession to the EU reaffirmed that they "will apply in practice the principle of freedom of transit of goods, including energy, between the Kaliningrad Region and the rest of Russian territory."

"In particular, we confirm that there shall be freedom of such transit, and that the goods in such transit shall not be subject to unnecessary delays or restrictions and shall be exempt from customs duties and transit duties or other charges related to transit," Alikhanov quoted the Joint Statement.

The governor added that the Kaliningrad Region would call on the Russian federal authorities to take tit-for-tat measures against Lithuania unless this ban is lifted.

"Unless these illegal restrictions on the transportation of goods from the Kaliningrad Region are lifted by our European neighbors, we will propose that the federal authorities take respective retaliatory measures," the governor said adding that the issue was being considered.


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