VILNIUS – Belaruskali's contract with Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG) on the transport of millions of tons of fertilizers through Lithuania posed a threat to national security, a court ruled on Thursday.
Vilnius Regional Administrative Court dismissed the Belarusian potash giant's appeal against the Lithuanian government and a special governmental commission vetting deals by strategic enterprises.
Belaruskali, which is on the US and EU sanctions lists, in January appealed against the government's decision to order LTG to terminate its long-term contract with Belaruskali on the transit of its fertilizers via Lithuania as of February 1.
The court stated that as a result of a review of Belaruskali's compatibility with national security interests, the Belarusian company was found to have links with foreign government bodies or natural or legal persons that posed a threat to national security.
"The applicant did not contest in principle the finding that it had links with Belarus' non-democratic regime," the court said in a statement. "These findings were also supported by information provided by the authorities concerned, as well as by other documentary evidence in the case."
"This ground alone [...] would be sufficient to declare the transaction incompatible with national security interests," it added.
Based on the commission's conclusion that LTG's contract with Belaruskali was not in line with national security interests, the Cabinet decided on January 12 that the deal had to be terminated as of February 1.
After the EU imposed sanctions on Belaruskali on March 2, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said that the government's decision to stop the transit was no longer relevant.
Belaruskali product shipments via Lithuania were halted on February 1, almost three months after the US sanctions against the Belarussian company came into force on December 8.
The transit from the border with Belarus to the seaport of Klaipeda had been going on for more than a decade and was to continue until the end of 2023 under the contract.
The contract provided for the transport of about 11 million tons of Belarusian fertilizers via Lithuania to the seaport of Klaipeda annually. In the port, the fertilizers were handled by Biriu Kroviniu Terminalas (Bulk Cargo Terminal, or BKT), a company controlled by Igor Udovickij, a local businessman, and Belaruskali.