Concerns about shortages in the Russian exclave arise as a result of the blocking of some products in transit through Lithuania.
On Saturday, Lithuania prohibited some Russian goods from traveling by rail to the country’s Kaliningrad Region. Vilnius explained the action, claiming that the items in question are no longer permitted to enter through EU territory even if they are traveling from one region of Russia to another due to the EU’s sanctions related to the situation in Ukraine.
Why is that crucial?
Along the Baltic Coast, situated between Poland and Lithuania, is the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Due to its central location in Europe, it can supply Russian commodities to any area of the EU with ease. Due to its geographical separation from the rest of Russia, a territory that is a part of Russia should be accorded unrestricted access to and from “mainland” Russia under international law. Thus, some observers contend that Lithuania’s action to restrict Russia’s access to its territory may, in part, constitute a “casus belli”—a reason for the start of the war.
What caused Lithuania to obstruct transit?
Officials from Lithuania claim that the choice was made with clearance from the European Commission, the main governing body of the EU. Wide-ranging sanctions on Russia were put in place as a result of its military campaign in Ukraine in late February by several nations, including EU member states. The bloc forbade the introduction of some Russian products among other things. These bans are purportedly being enforced by Vilnius’ action.
Is every good’s transit blocked?
No, only the things that Brussels had sanctioned were barred from entering. They include alcohol as well as crude oil and oil products, coal, metals, building supplies, cutting-edge technology, glassware, some meals, and fertilizers. The region’s governor, Anton Alikhanov, estimates that the embargo may prevent up to 50% of all commodities from reaching Kaliningrad.
Can the block cause a lack of supplies in the area?
Not required, as Russia can still use the route through the Baltic Sea. Local officials and the leaders of the majority of retail chains claim that the area is well-stocked with food and supplies and won’t experience supply delays for three to six months. The majority of the meat, dairy, and fish consumed in Kaliningrad is produced locally, and recently, some corn, wheat, and rapeseed have been exported, according to Elena Zaitseva, the director of the city’s main port.
Is there a risk to travel and tourism?
No danger at the moment. Four major Russian airlines continue to operate flights from Moscow to Kaliningrad, even though passenger trains from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad via Lithuania were stopped back in early April. Additionally, there are sea ferries, and according to rumors, Russian officials are actively planning to start passenger maritime routes via the Baltic.