Russia vows to respond to Lithuania’s ban on goods transit

Moscow, Jun 21 (AP) Russia’s security chief on Tuesday said Moscow will respond to Lithuania’s decision to bar rail transit of certain goods from Russia to a Russian Baltic Sea exclave, and this response will have a significant negative impact on the Lithuanian people, adding to the already high tensions in the region.

The ban on goods subject to European Union sanctions was announced by the Lithuanian authorities earlier this month and prompted a flurry of angry retorts from Moscow, with the Kremlin denouncing the move as unprecedented and unlawful.

Nikolai Patrushev, the powerful secretary of the Kremlin’s Security Council, visited the Kaliningrad exclave on Tuesday and vowed during a national security meeting to take action over the ban.

Russia will definitely respond to such hostile actions, Patrushev was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying. “The relevant measures are being drawn up in an interagency format and will be adopted shortly. Their consequences will have a significant negative impact on the population of Lithuania,” Patrushev said, without offering details on what the measures might be.

Separately, the Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday summoned the European Union ambassador to Russia, Markus Ederer, and expressed a resolute protest over the transit ban. The ministry said in a statement that it demanded an immediate resumption of the normal operation of the transit, otherwise retaliatory measures will follow.”

The Lithuanian government stressed in a written statement Tuesday that the transit of passengers and non-sanctioned goods to and from the Kaliningrad region through Lithuania continues uninterrupted, and that the ban on transit of sanctioned goods was merely part the fourth package of EU sanctions against Russia.

The Kaliningrad exclave, home to some 430,000 people, is isolated from the rest of Russia and borders EU members Lithuania and Poland. Trains with goods for Kaliningrad travel via Belarus and Lithuania; there’s no transit through Poland. Russia can still supply the exclave by sea without falling foul of EU sanctions. (AP)