Lithuania told to allow sanctioned Russian goods trade to Kaliningrad

Photo: Dominika Zarzycka/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Lithuania will adhere to the European Commission’s advice that sanctioned Russian goods can transit to the Kaliningrad exclave, its Foreign Ministry said, noting at the same time that the move could be perceived as “softening” of EU’s sanctions policy against Russia.

The EC announced the news after weeks of tensions between Moscow, Lithuania and the European Union which tested Europe's resolve to enforce sanctions on Russia.

According to the EC’s guidance, EU trade sanctions should not apply to transport between Russia and its exclave, so long as its volumes do not exceed the averages of the last three years, reflecting “the real demand for essential goods at the destination.”

The transit of sanctioned military and dual-use goods and technology remains fully prohibited.

EU members were tasked with monitoring trade between Russia and Kaliningrad to check for sanction circumvention, such as making sure there are “no unusual flows or trade patterns.”

Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday the previous trade rules, which blocked many sanctioned cargos from transport between mainland Russia and Kaliningrad, were “more acceptable.”

“Kaliningrad transit rules may create an unjustified impression that the transatlantic community is softening its position and sanctions policy towards Russia,” the FM’s statement said.

Kaliningrad, which is bordered by EU states and relies on railways and roads through Lithuania for most goods, has been cut off from some freight transport from mainland Russia since June 17 under sanctions imposed by Brussels.