EU Takes Responsibility for Partial Blockade of Russia’s Kaliningrad
June 21, 2022 (EIRNS)—The European Union admitted yesterday that, in implementing sanctions prohibiting of transit from sanctioned goods to Russia, including into Kaliningrad, Lithuania is acting as nothing more than an instrument of the EU. The move is highly provocative, and “beyond serious,” as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned on Monday. Amongst other concerns, Russia’s Baltic naval fleet is headquartered in Kaliningrad.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell claimed on June 20 that there is no blockade of Kaliningrad, since overland transit of passengers and goods continues, and “only” transportation of goods on the EU sanctions lists has been stopped. “Lithuania has not taken any unilateral national restrictions. But, in accordance with European Union sanctions there are imports and export restrictions that apply in relation with certain goods, including the prohibition of transit from those goods through European Union territory. Lithuania is doing nothing else than implementing the guidelines provided by the [European] Commission,” he responded to a media question at his press conference in Luxembourg.
Borrell’s concluding remark is revealing of the EU’s oligarchical philosophy:
“If the transit through European Union territories are prohibited for some goods, then it is prohibited. But once again, we are in a positive mood, in a precautionary mode. We will double-check the legal aspects in order to verify that we are completely aligned with any kind of law. But Lithuania is not guilty, it is not implementing national sanctions, it is not implementing their will. Whatever they are doing has been the consequences of previous consultation with the Commission who has provided guidelines and they are implementing the guidelines.”
Russia has a different view of the matter. “Today, we let them know clearly ... that this is absolutely not about the sanctions anymore; this is a different matter. This is a blockade, a partial cargo blockade that they introduce basically in this way against our region. This is what we told them absolutely openly, said it straight up directly,” Russia’s temporary chargé d’affaires at the Russian Embassy in Vilnius Sergey Ryabokon told Rossiya 1 TV yesterday, TASS reported today. BBC cited Governor of Kaliningrad Region Anton Alikhanov, as saying that that the ban covers about 50% of the items that Kaliningrad, an area with around a million inhabitants, imports. Currently, the EU sanctions apply to steel and on other metal products but they are slated to expand to include cement and alcohol on July 10, coal and other solid fuels on Aug. 10, and oil on Dec. 5.
In Kaliningrad for meetings on June 21, Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolay Patrushev stated that Russia “will certainly respond to such hostile actions.” Patrushev said the blockade by Lithuania was instigated by the West “in violation of ... international law,” and warned that “appropriate measures” would be taken “in the near future.”
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price added fuel to the fire. “We stand by our NATO allies and we stand by Lithuania.... Specifically our commitment to NATO’s Article 5—the premise that an attack on one would constitute an attack on all—that commitment on the part of the United States is ironclad,” he told reporters on June 21.