Siauliu Bankas CEO: authorities must make it clear about importance of Kaliningrad transit

  • 2022-08-12
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – As Lithuanian institutions and commercial banks are looking into ways to handle Russian payments for the transit of sanctioned goods to Kaliningrad via Lithuania, CEO of Siauliu Bankas, a Lithuanian commercial bank that intends to suspend any transactions with Russia from September, has called on authorities to finally make it clear whether that transit constitutes a function of interest to the state.

“Public authorities must state it clearly whether transit is a function of interest to the state, or not,” Vytautas Sinius of Siauliu Bankas, the only bank continuing to execute such payments in Lithuania, told BNS on Friday.

“We are waiting for a clarification from public authorities about how the state interprets transit in this context. That’s what we are waiting for now,” he said.

Nonetheless, the bank’s CEO stressed that transit’s importance to the state was not the only issue that would have to be considered when making a decision on the handling of transit settlements.

“We would consider all issues related to risk management, to transit as well as to the need to ensure nationally significant functions – whether it [transit] should be treated as one of those. Another element is the risk of sanctions posed by the handling of transactions with Russia and Belarus. If there are any more elements, we will assess those additionally,” Sinius said.

“We cannot assume any risks that are unmanageable or are hardly manageable,” he added.

Sinius could not specify which form public authorities should use to express their stance on Kaliningrad transit settlements.

Siauliu Bankas stated earlier that would suspend any transactions with Russia from September, and would only make exceptions for payments made for humanitarian purposes or to ensure state functions.

Arianna Podesta, the European Commission's spokeswoman for competition and Eurostat, said on Thursday that the existing EU sanctions for Russia and Belarus did not ban banks from handling payments for rail services, and Lithuanian institutions needed to reassure banks.

On July 22, Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG), the country's state-owned railway company, resumed the transit of sanctioned goods between Russia and Kaliningrad after it was suspended in mid-June.