Lithuania accuses Moscow of propaganda battle over Kaliningrad
Bloomberg June 23, 2022
Lithuania accused Russia of waging a propaganda battle and taking a threatening stance in a standoff over Vilnius restricting the transit of sanctioned goods to the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda told Bloomberg Television on Thursday that his country is simply enforcing European Union sanctions on Moscow imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We got used to that kind of manipulation, disinformation and threatening,” Nauseda said in Brussels on the sidelines of an EU summit. “It comes very often. And we are used to having this very dangerous neighbor. This is nothing special.”
“Russia is acting disproportionately and they are trying to use this opportunity just to blow the propaganda bubble,” Nauseda added.
Moscow said on Wednesday it’s preparing retaliatory measures in response to Lithuania’s application of the EU ban on the movement of sanctioned goods. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said different measures are under consideration over the EU’s “unfriendly” behavior, declining to comment when asked about the possibility of a Russian military response.
Russia has demanded the immediate restoration of transit services to Kaliningrad, which is sandwiched between NATO members Lithuania and Poland. The escalating confrontation comes as the US and EU countries send arms supplies to Ukraine, and impose unprecedented sanctions on Moscow.
Nauseda said his country needs “precise” guidance from the EU on “how to apply those sanctions” with the supply of steel and other ferrous metal products from Russia currently targeted. The president added that “this issue is not a bilateral issue between Lithuania and Russia.”
The restrictions that came into force last week affect as much as half of all transit goods transported to Kaliningrad via rail through Lithuania, according to local authorities in the Russian province. Delivery of goods continues by air and by ship to Kaliningrad, a former German territory that was seized by the Soviet Union in World War II.
“It’s not a blockade if we’re talking about non-sanctioned goods,” Nauseda said. “If we are talking about passengers, there’s no blockade, there’s free movement between the territory” of the Russian mainland and the Kaliningrad region.