VILNIUS – What is most important is that Lithuania's authorities responsible for controlling the movement of sanctioned Russia goods via Lithuania to Kaliningrad have agreed on how to calculate transit volumes, Transport Minister Marius Skuodis said on Wednesday.
The minister was commenting on the governmental Coordination Commission on International Sanctions' recommendations to competent authorities on how to control the transit of sanctioned Russian goods through Lithuania to the exclave.
"For us, the Transport Ministry, which is responsible for the execution of the sanctions in the transport sector, the most important thing is that all institutions agreed at the sanctions commission on certain parameters for ensuring that transit," Skuodis told BNS on Wednesday.
"One of the most important things is how we calculate the average, what data we use, what criteria we look at, and now Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG) will ensure that the (governmental) commission's guidance is followed," he said.
The governmental commission recommended on Tuesday that rail transit volumes this year should be calculated based on the average of goods transported solely by rail between 2019 and 2021.
It made its recommendations to the Transport Ministry and the Customs Department after discussing the European Commission's updated guidance, issued on July 13, on Russia's transit to Kaliningrad.
According to Skuodis, LTG, the state railway operator, will derive the average based on the data it has.
"We have clear data for three years and if the average is exceeded, naturally that freight should not move on," he said.
Commenting on what will be done with goods that have not been shipped between mainland Russia and the exclave so far, the minister said that based on the clarification, essential goods are those transported before the sanctions came into force.
"Naturally, goods that were transported before (the sanctions) should be allowed through. If it is something new, we will probably have to go back to the (governmental) commission, maybe to the European Commission for consultation," he said.
Skuodis believes that payment for services should not cause major problems either.
"It is very important for banks, like any other legal entity, including LTG, not to violate the sanctions," the minister said.
"Since the European Commission has issued its guidance, solutions are likely to be found as far as payments are concerned, and the sanctions would not be violated in this case," he added.
LTG says it shipped around 11.5 million tons of freight to and from Kaliningrad in transit via Lithuania last year, including almost 2 million tons from the exclave to mainland Russia. Some 1.3 million of these were food industry products, with other types of goods transported in small volumes.