EC failed to consider possible reactions to guidance on Kaliningrad transit

  • 2022-07-27
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The European Commission (EC) failed to take into consideration possible reactions to its clarifications on the transit of sanctioned Russian goods to Kaliningrad, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte has said. 

"I think that perhaps the European Commission itself failed to give full consideration to what reaction might occur after, say, one or another clarification," she told the public broadcaster LRT in an interview aired on Tuesday. "But Lithuania followed the guidance it had at the time the sanctions took effect."

Lithuanian officials say that in April they received the EC's guidance prohibiting the transit of some goods banned from entering the EU under sanctions introduced after the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine.

However, the EU's executive body issued updated guidance allowing rail shipments via the bloc's territory for Kaliningrad's needs after the ban on the movement of Russian steel and ferrous metals to the exclave, put in place in June, triggered an angry response from Moscow and threats to retaliate.

Critics say the Lithuanian government may have misinterpreted the April guidance.

Opposition parliamentarians said last week they were initiating an interpellation motion against Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, the leader of the ruling conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats, over his handling of the Kaliningrad transit.

Simonyte said she did not make "any remarks to Minister Landsbergis, because I know very well how things happened." 

At least 29 MPs have to sign an interpellation motion and submit it to a member of the Cabinet. He or she then has two weeks to answer the questions in writing.

The parliament sets up a special commission that recommends whether or not to accept the answers. If it proposes not to accept the answers, a confidence vote is held in the parliament. At least 71 members of the 141-seat parliament must support a no-confidence resolution in a secret ballot for it to be passed.

Russia resumed the transit of sanctioned goods to Kaliningrad on Tuesday, with the first cement shipments delivered to the region by rail via Lithuania.