Baltic Sea

The Russian region says Lithuania will restrict imports and exports by rail

A view shows railway tracks at a commercial port in the Baltic Sea city of Baltiysk in the Kaliningrad region, Russia October 28, 2021. REUTERS/Vitaly Nevar

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June 17 (Reuters) – Lithuania has told Russia’s Kaliningrad region that it will block the import and export of a large number of goods by rail over western sanctions, the regional governor said on Friday.

The region — home to Russia’s Baltic Fleet and a deployment site for nuclear-capable Iskander missiles — lies on the Baltic coast between Lithuania and Poland, both NATO members, and has no land border with Russia.

Governor Anton Alikhanov said the crackdown would affect between 40% and 50% of products imported into and exported from Russia via Lithuania.

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“We consider this to be an extremely serious violation… of the right of free transit to and from the Kaliningrad region,” he said in an online video post, adding that authorities would urge the measures to be lifted.

Among the goods that would be affected are building materials, cement and metal products, he said.

Neither the Lithuanian State Railways nor the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs were immediately available for comment.

The move could add to already high tensions between Russia and NATO over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Alikhanov sent what he said was a document from the Lithuanian State Railways to its counterpart in Kaliningrad, saying the crackdown would begin at midnight on Saturday (2100 GMT Friday) in Vilnius.

He said that if the region were not able to quickly lift the measures, it would start discussing the need for more ships to transport goods to Russia.

In February, Lithuania closed its airspace to flights from Russia to Kaliningrad, forcing commercial airlines to take a longer route across the Baltic Sea. Continue reading

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Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Grant McCool

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