VILNIUS – No information has been received so far about the confiscation of Russian-registered cars entering Lithuania in accordance with the latest clarification of the European Commission on sanctions but there have been cases when these were intended to be used to cross the Lithuanian border, Deputy Foreign Minister Jovita Neliupsiene has said.
"I cannot say about the confiscated cars, but yes, there were intentions to cross the border [using Russian-registered cars]. However, once informed, those people abandoned such intentions," she told reporters on Tuesday.
According to the Commission's clarification issued at the end of last week, motor vehicles that carry a Russian license plate and are registered in Russia cannot be allowed into the bloc’s territory.
The Commission’s guidelines also urge national authorities to make sure that a long list of "personal products" that originate in Russia do not come into the bloc.
The list includes commonplace objects, such as razor blades, dental floss, deodorants, soap, clothes and footwear, but also numerous items that could potentially have a military application, like pneumatic tires, radio systems and electric generators.
According to Neliupsiene, the decision on refusing entry for such cars was taken and completed back in June.
“The clarification says these must be cars either bought in Russia or with Russian registration plates, cars registered in Russia. In this case, such cars should not enter the EU,” she said.
According to the deputy foreign minister, Russian cars that have entered the country’s territory will have to leave within 24 hours to prove they are in transit.
"If a police officer, a Polish officer, a Latvian officer stops a citizen [in a car] with Russian plates and sees that the border crossing took place more than 24 hours earlier ..., this means in principle that the person has brought a car in temporarily ..., then in such cases the car should be confiscated, because it is not allowed to enter," the politician said.
Another clarification of the Commission applied to transit to Kaliningrad, she added.
Meanwhile, the customs authorities told BNS that customs officers had not been allowing cars with Russian registration plates into the territory of Lithuania since Monday, except in cases of transit to or from Kaliningrad. The service also confirmed that no cars had been confiscated so far.
"There have been no cases of confiscation or detention of cars with Russian registration plates and other items so far,” the customs authorities said.
Speaking about the ban on personal belongings, Neliupsiene said that Lithuania had asked for further clarification.
"We have asked together with the countries of the region as we have agreed that we need a new clarification from the Commission. When the Commission discussed cars last week, we pointed out then that there will be issues related ... to all the other items that are banned for temporary admission or import," the deputy minister said.
Since September 19, 2022, entry to the Baltic countries and Poland has been restricted to persons meeting the criteria approved by the government, such as Russian diplomats, dissidents, employees of transport companies, family members of EU citizens, as well as Russian citizens with residence permits or long-stay national visas from Schengen countries.
Russian citizens can also transit through Lithuania by train to and from the Kaliningrad exclave.
The ban on the entry of Russian citizens has been provided for in a resolution adopted by the Seimas declaring a state of emergency on Lithuania’s borders with Russia and Belarus, which will remain in force at least through December 16.