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Lithuania ready to extend blockade of Kaliningrad – president

The country is ready to face retaliatory measures from Russia, says Gitanas Nauseda

Vilnius is ready to extend the list of goods prohibited from transiting to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad if the European Union introduces new sanctions against Moscow, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Wednesday. The country is also ready to deal with any potential retaliatory measures that Russia might introduce, he told Reuters in an interview.

“We are ready and prepared for hostile actions by Russia, such as disconnection from BRELL [power grid] system, or others”, said Nausea.

The president stressed that the transit restrictions were not a sovereign decision of Lithuania, but simply the implementation of EU sanctions against Moscow introduced because of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. “We feel the support of the European Union, because it is a decision taken by the European Union”, he said, adding that the country was ready to expand the list of banned products if the bloc introduced new restrictions against Russia.

“We look forward to the implementation of the next steps of the sanctions, and it would be very good for the European Commission to explain their content to the Russian authorities. This could eliminate some of the current tensions, which are not in the interests of either the European Union or Russia,” he added. Nauseda said.

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EU comments on the conflict between Lithuania and Russia

Over the weekend, Lithuania’s national rail operator banned the flow of sanctioned goods between the region and the rest of Russia, citing European Commission guidelines. The restrictions have also affected road traffic in the enclave, according to Kaliningrad officials. Both Vilnius and the EU insist that the restrictions do not constitute a “blockade” of the slave.

Moscow, however, unequivocally called Vilnius’ decision a “economic blockade” of the Kaliningrad region, claiming to have violated the country’s international obligations to ensure the uninterrupted transit of goods to the exclave. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Vilnius’ decision was “unprecedented” and in “violation of everything and nothing”.

Russian Security Council chief Nikolay Patrushev has warned that the ‘blockade’ could invoke a response from Moscow that “to have a serious negative impact on the Lithuanian people.”

“Of course, Russia will respond to hostile actions. Appropriate measures are being prepared and will be adopted in the near future,” Patrushev told reporters during a visit to Kaliningrad on Tuesday.