First train with sanctioned Russian goods transits via Lithuania to Kaliningrad

  • 2022-07-26
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The first train with sanctioned goods from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad has already crossed Lithuania and reached its destination, a spokesman for Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG) confirmed on Tuesday.   

"The first train to Kaliningrad has already passed and the second one was undergoing customs checks today," Mantas Dubauskas, head of communications at the state-owned railway company, told BNS.  

A spokeswoman for the Customs Department said the second train carrying five wagons of cement had already been checked at the Kena border post and cleared to continue its trip to the Russian exclave.

"It has already been checked and has left," Lina Laurinaityte-Grigiene told BNS.

Russia resumed freight shipments between its mainland and this exclave bordering Lithuania on Monday after the European Commission (EC) had updated its guidance to allow the transit of sanctioned goods via Lithuania.

Last Friday, LTG notified its customers about the transportation of transit freight in line with the EC's updated guidance, issued on July 13.

It allowed Russia to transport sanctioned goods to and from the Kaliningrad region via Lithuania only for the needs of the exclave and only by rail.

The Lithuanian government's commission on the coordination of international sanctions recommended to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Customs Department and LTG how the transit of these goods should to be controlled.

LTG said last Friday that rail transit volumes would have to remain within the historical averages of the last three years, from January 2019 through December 2021. The averages will be calculated for each commodity code, and applications will be rejected if their quantities reach the annual averages, according to the operator.

"The total average quantity calculated on the basis of the 2019-2021 average is 3.1 million tons," Kotryna Dzikaraite, a spokeswoman for LTG, told BNS. "The list includes several hundred commodity codes under the EU regulation, and their quantities will be calculated specifically when applications are received."  

Last spring, the EU banned the movement of certain Russian goods via its territory under several separate sanction packages.

The EU's ban on transporting Russian steel and ferrous metals via the bloc's territory took effect on June 17 and the one on cement, alcohol, wood, glass, aluminum, paper products, gypsum and ship parts came into force on July 10.

Lithuania last month halted the movement of these Russian goods via its territory to Kaliningrad, saying it followed the EC's previous guidance that banned the transit.

Earlier this month, however, the EU's executive body issued its updated guidance, following Russia's outcry over the transit restrictions and threats to retaliate.