Lithuanian PM calls tighter Russian grain import controls 'a sign of solidarity'

  • 2024-03-19
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuania's tightened controls on grain imports from Russia and other heightened-risk countries, in place since Monday, will not bring much practical benefit, but it is a sign of solidarity, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Tuesday. 

"There won't be much practical benefit because these grain imports are practically non-existent – we had no rye or wheat imports from Russia before (the tightening of controls), perhaps a little buckwheat," Simonyte told reporters. 

"Transit is another matter. There was a little more transit, so the tightening may somehow affect the willingness to transit through the territory of Lithuania, but the volumes of transit were very small," the prime minister said.

"However, this is a sign of solidarity, because more of these grains travel through neighboring countries, through the port of Riga and the border between Russia and Latvia. We don't have much border traffic either, except for transit to Kaliningrad, which has a special regime," she added.

Simonyte said that the European Union could consider an import ban not only on Russian and Belarusian grain, but also on other food products.

"There's no shortage of foodstuffs in the European Union that requires importing them from countries that are waging or supporting war," the prime minister said.

"Another thing is when individual countries start making their decisions. Given that the border is much longer, this is pressure on states that have not made decisions and an incentive to look for routes through those states. It'd be best if this didn't happen, and I hope that the European Council will discuss this this week," she added. 

On Monday, Lithuania's authorities introduced tighter controls on grain imports from Russia and other heightened-risk countries, inspecting every rail or road shipment destined for the Lithuanian market or for export via the Klaipeda port.

The Agriculture Ministry expects the controls to be further tightened in the near future to involve checking the origin of grain transported through Lithuania as well.  

For now, the measure only applied to feed grains, with checks on food grains to start later.