On Thursday the governor of Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast, Anton Alikhanov, announced that the delivery of goods by rail should resume “literally today or tomorrow.”
He hailed yesterday’s European Commission guidelines telling Lithuania that EU sanctions don’t apply to Russian imports delivered by rail a “victory of our diplomacy”. He further said that despite the road ban on goods brought by Russia-registered trucks is still in place, over 80% of prior restrictions on transit have now been lifted with the European Commission decision.
“That is the victory of our diplomacy as a significant amount of the restrictions on the transit to Kaliningrad, accounting for over 80%, was lifted,” Alikhanov told Russian state media sources.
“The European Commission’s guidelines have lifted significant amount of transit restrictions to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, accounting for over 80%,” he said.
Additionally, the ‘sea bridge’ across the Baltic Sea that Russia established following Lithuania’s effective ‘blockade’ of the Russian exclave, which means extra ships began ferrying goods by sea which would have normally been carried by rail over the past many weeks, will stay in place for now – according to the governor.
The European Commission issued its legal guidance on the standoff Wednesday on the crisis which had over the past month resulted in some one million Russian citizens in the exclave remaining cut off from products brought by rail and road. “The transit of sanctioned goods by road with Russian operators is not allowed under the EU measures. No such similar prohibition exists for rail transport,” the European Union executive said, specifying that Russian goods should continue to be allowed by train.
“The Commission underlines the importance of monitoring the two-way trade flows between Russia and Kaliningrad … to ensure that sanctioned goods cannot enter the EU customs territory,” it added, emphasizing further that the rail exception doesn’t apply to weapons or munitions. The EU said further this should be done through “targeted, proportionate and effective controls and other appropriate measures.”
A number of European pundits and analysts have expressed outrage at the EU taking a ‘soft’ stance of compromise, saying it has only emboldened Russia’s assault on Ukraine…
The EU believes it “deescalates” forcing Lithuania to allow illegal Russian transit to Kaliningrad. Russia understands it different: as the EU weakness and corruption. Now Russia kills more civilians. 4 missiles fired on Vinnitsya city center, 10 civilians killed, inlc. 1 child. pic.twitter.com/qpcXh9ufMx
— Sergej Sumlenny (@sumlenny) July 14, 2022
Moscow’s position has vehemently remained that Lithuania’s actions amounted to an “illegal blockade”. The hardline, unflinching position of Lithuania without doubt created a major unwanted headache for EU leadership. Ukraine and its fiercest supporters are not happy with the decision which they say rewards Russia for bad behavior.