Lithuanian PM to answer opposition's questions on Kaliningrad transit sanctions

  • 2022-06-23
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte on Thursday is expected to answer questions from opposition parliamentarians on the Kaliningrad transit sanctions. 

These sanctions were adopted on March 15, but were met with a strong reaction from Moscow when they came into force in mid-June.

Opposition MPs are asking the prime minister about Lithuania's position in talks on the EU's fourth package of sanctions, whether the risks to Lithuania's security had been assessed and what measures were taken to coordinate communication to prevent propaganda attacks by Russia.

The opposition expect answers on why "strategic communication has not worked and the false narrative of the Kaliningrad blockade has spread in the public sphere". 

They are also asking what steps Lithuania is taking to prepare for the ban on the transit of certain other categories of products taking effect later this year. 

Moscow on Monday demanded that Lithuania lift the ban on the rail transit of some goods between mainland Russia and Kaliningrad, saying that the restrictions violate international agreements. 

Vilnius says it has not imposed any unilateral national restrictions and is simply adhering to EU-wide sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. 

According to the Lithuanian Customs, the EU's fourth package of sanctions, adopted on March 15, imposed restrictions on Russian steel and other ferrous metal products under contracts concluded before June 17, and as of last Saturday, these goods cannot be transported through the territories of the bloc's member countries.

Based on information from the Customs Department, the ban on the transit of cement, alcohol and other products will come into force on July 10, coal and other solid fossil fuels on August 10, and Russian oil on December 5.

On Monday, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry handed a diplomatic note to Sergey Ryabokon, Moscow's charge d'affaires ad interim in Vilnius, explaining the application of the EU's restrictive measures to the transit between Kaliningrad and mainland Russia.

"In the meeting, the information spread by Russian representatives that Lithuania banned Kaliningrad transit was denied," the ministry has said in a statement.

According to Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, although the transit agreements between the EU, Russia and Lithuania do not provide for exemptions for goods and services transported under any conditions, the regulations do. In her words, it has been agreed that no restrictions can be applied to essential goods such as food, medicines, etc.