Daily Report from the Ukraine Field for 2022-07-13
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⚡️🇷🇺🇱🇹🇪🇺 Kaliningrad crisis not solved.⚡️ Izvestia statement permature. EU document shurely will not completely satisfy Moscow. More info by Welt🔻
EU clarifies sanctions rules after dispute over transit to Kaliningrad
The EU is trying to defuse the conflict over restrictions on Russian goods traffic to Kaliningrad via Lithuania. Freight traffic to the Russian exclave for goods affected by sanctions is to be allowed. However, there are restrictions.
Following protests and threats from Moscow, the EU Commission has drawn up new guidelines on transit traffic between Russia and its Baltic exclave Kaliningrad. According to the guidelines, Russia is allowed to transport civilian goods on the sanctions list by rail through the EU country of Lithuania without major restrictions.
However, according to the document published on Wednesday, road transports by Russian carriers through EU territory are still prohibited. In addition, no goods that can also be used for military purposes may be transported by rail.
The government in Moscow had previously accused Lithuania of illegally restricting the movement of goods between Russia and Kaliningrad. The exclave around the former Königsberg lies between the EU states of Lithuania and Poland. It is only about 500 kilometers from Berlin, but more than 1000 kilometers from Moscow. The point of contention is goods on EU sanctions lists, including iron and steel products, but also fertilizers, wood and cement.
Regarding the transport of civilian goods by rail, the EU Commission states in its guidelines, according to dpa information, that these may only be transported in the quantities that have been customary up to now. To this end, there are to continue to be targeted and effective controls. If it becomes apparent that larger quantities of goods than usual are being transported, they must be stopped, according to the guidelines. This is intended to prevent Russia from transporting goods on sanctions lists via Kaliningrad to other countries and thus circumventing punitive measures.
Moscow had criticized the introduced transit restrictions as "illegal".
Germany in particular had also pushed for the new guidelines. The German government feared that Lithuania's particularly strict interpretation of EU sanctions rules could provoke a dangerous escalation of tensions with Russia.
Moscow had criticized the transit restrictions introduced in mid-June as "illegal" and threatened "practical" countermeasures against the Baltic EU and NATO country if they did not reverse them. Specifically, Russia had brought up, among other things, the cancellation of the Russian-Lithuanian treaty on the state border. There was also talk of excluding Lithuania from a joint, synchronized power grid.
With the new guidance, the EU Commission now makes clear that it puts Russia's right of transit above the legal view that Russia should be banned from transporting goods via Lithuania against the backdrop of the sanctions regulations. The regulations ban the import of certain Russian goods into the EU.
Lithuania's head of state Gitanas Nauseda had repeatedly called on the EU to show solidarity in the dispute. "We would like to emphasize, and this is our position, that there should be no green corridor for special goods," he had said most recently.