Since mid-June, the Baltic nation has refused to allow items on the EU sanctions list to pass through its territory. Moscow, in turn, threatened retaliation.
Der Spiegel published an article on Thursday, claiming that the EU, notably due to requests from Berlin, would soon issue a clarification allowing the passage of any goods between mainland Russia and its westernmost region. Officials in Berlin are said to consider the currently blocked transit through Vilnius to be “Russia-to-Russia transport”, which should be allowed.
The magazine went on to suggest that Olaf Scholz’s government feared Moscow could use force to secure a land corridor through Lithuania unless the blockade was lifted.
Berlin is particularly concerned about the situation since German troops are stationed in Lithuania as part of the alliance’s rapid force, the report adds. Der Spiegel cited unnamed Lithuanian government officials as confirming Berlin’s intervention.
“ Back to recommendation stories
“The Germans put pressure on[European] Commission to ensure that sanctions do not apply to Kaliningrad,” a source told Spiegel on Thursday. The unnamed Lithuanian official went on to suggest that Berlin “fears that its soldiers will end up in a military conflict and be intimidated by Russia”.
Lithuanian officials have so far insisted they are simply sticking to the letter and spirit of existing EU law, with Brussels having until recently agreed that goods in transit to Kaliningrad fall under also EU sanctions.
The Baltic state fears that the lifting of sanctions will negatively affect the bloc’s security, Der Spiegel reported.
“The sanctions must be applied. No apologies should undermine the credibility and effectiveness of EU sanctions policy,” a spokesperson for the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said recently.
Lithuania began blocking the transit of certain goods, including steel, coal and building materials, from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad on June 17, citing EU sanctions. Vilnius does not allow these items to cross its territory, by rail or by road.
According to the governor of the Russian region, Anton Alikhanov, between 40 and 50% of all transits are affected.
Russia described Lithuania’s actions as a “blockade” of its region and threatened retaliation.
The European Commission tried to come up with a plan that would defuse tensions in the region. With Germany apparently calling for an exemption, Brussels is likely to issue “guidance” or a clarification of its fourth batch of anti-Russian sanctions, which would officially state that the transit of goods to Kaliningrad is not affected by these restrictions, said Der Spiegel. .