European authorities are stopping the transit of Russian goods in the Kaliningrad region, which is officially a part of the Russian territory. Such a measure tends to significantly increase tensions on the European continent and contribute negatively at a time of major concerns about international peace and security.
On June 18, the governor of Kaliningrad Anton Alikhanov reported to media agencies that the Lithuanian state-owned company “Lithuania Railways” has banned the rail transport in the Russia’s Kaliningrad territory regarding all sanctioned goods, entirely isolating the Russian exclave in Europe. Apparently, the reason for such a radical measure would have been the international pressure exerted by the rest of Europe for Lithuania to comply with the “EU’s restrictions”.
Commenting on the case, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that “this is not a Lithuanian decision. These are European sanctions that came into force on June 17, and the railways are now applying the sanctions”.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell confirmed the Lithuanian minister’s words and tried to “defuse” the situation, saying that there is no blockade, as only goods that have received sanctions are being barred from transit:
“There is no blockade. The land transit between Kaliningrad and other parts of Russia has not been banned. Second, transit of people and goods that are not sanctioned continues. Third, Lithuania has not taken any unilateral national restrictions. (…) We are in a precautionary mood. We will double-check the legal aspects in order to verify that we are completely aligned with any kind of rule. (…) But Lithuania is not guilty. It is not implementing national sanctions. It is not implementing their will. Whatever they are doing has been the consequence of previous consultation with the commission, which has provided guidelines”.
What seems unacceptable, however, is the fact that such pressure is aimed at blocking the transit of products inside the Russian sovereign space, preventing them from leaving Kaliningrad and reaching the rest of Russian territory. No country has the right to prevent another from transporting its goods to other parts of its own territory. In this case, it is not just about “sanctions against Russia”, but about an illegal attitude that violates all elementary norms and principles of public international law.