Transit to Kaliningrad allowed, but not for sanctioned goods – POLITICO

EU countries must carry out checks on transport between Russia and Kaliningrad, its enclave on the Baltic Sea, to prevent Moscow from circumventing sanctions, the Commission announced in directives on Wednesday.

But the guidelines still allowed trucks and trains to go between Russia and Kaliningrad, which are separated by Lithuania and Latvia.

According to the new guidelines, EU sanctions do not prohibit the transit of trucks between Russia and Kaliningrad unless they are carrying sanctioned goods. There is no specific sanctions regime applying to rail transport on the road, but EU countries must carry out « effective controls », since the transit of sanctioned military personnel and goods that can be used for military purposes is prohibited regardless of the mode of transport.

Countries must monitor trade flows between Russia and Kaliningrad and use « targeted, proportionate and effective controls and other appropriate measures », according to the Commission.

The guidelines were in response to tensions following Lithuania’s halt to the transit of freight trains carrying banned goods from Russia to Kaliningrad last month. Lithuania and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell have insisted Vilnius is enforcing EU sanctions, but Moscow has threatened retaliatory action.

Borrell said the EU’s diplomatic arm, the External Action Service, and the Commission would reassess the sanctions guidelines « in order to control sanctions but not to hamper traffic between Kaliningrad and Russia ».

The text asks countries to check transit volumes against historical averages for the past three years to detect « unusual flows or business patterns that could give rise to circumvention ».

“In such a case, Member States shall take all necessary measures provided for by EU law, including, where appropriate, refusal of transit and detention of the goods in question,” according to the guidelines.


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