Lithuanian ForMin says looking into Russia's note on payments for Kaliningrad transit

  • 2022-07-29
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said on Friday that it had received and was looking into a Russian diplomatic note on the alleged suspension of payments for Kaliningrad transit services, but did not comment further on the situation.

"We confirm that we have received the note from the Russian Federation," the ministry said in its reply to BNS. "We are currently examining it." 

Russia's media reported on Thursday that the noted had been handed to the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry by Sergey Ryabokon, Moscow's charge d'affaires ad interim in Vilnius. 

The diplomat told Russia's state TV channel Rossiya 24 that operators using the services of Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG) had to pay for freight shipments in Russia, but Siauliu Bankas, the only Lithuanian bank still handling these payments, is suspending all transactions with Russia from September.

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry did not answer BNS' question about what explanations it had provided to Ryabokon.

The Lithuanian Transport Ministry and the state-owned LTG did not provide answers to questions about the alleged suspension of payments for Kaliningrad transit services either. 

Gabriele Vasiliauskaite, spokeswoman for the transport minister, told BNS that the ministry was still coordinating its position on the issue with the government. 

Siauliu Bankas said last week that it would stop processing payments in Russian rubles, regardless of the recipient's country, as of August 15, and payments in any currency to or from Russia and Belarus as of September 1. 

However, the bank says on its website that "exceptions to the execution of payments may be applied by prior agreement in cases where payments are made for humanitarian purposes or to ensure state functions".

Other major Lithuanian banks – Swedbank, SEB and Luminor – stopped handling payments between Lithuania and Russia and Belarus some time ago.

Russia resumed the transit of sanctioned goods to Kaliningrad earlier this week, about a month after Lithuania banned it based on the European Commission's guidance issued in April. 

After Russia called the restrictions a blockade of the Kaliningrad region and threatened to retaliate, the EU's executive body issued new guidance in July, saying that Lithuania had to allow the movement of sanctioned goods by rail.