Russia will summon EU ambassador to Moscow Markus Ederer on Tuesday amid a dispute about the transit of goods through Lithuanian territory to the Kaliningrad exclave, the region’s governor Anton Alikhanov, said Monday.
“This is, of course, a situation, that can be resolved by diplomatic means,” Alikhanov told Russian television. “As far as I know, tomorrow Markus Ederer will be summoned to the foreign ministry.”
Russia demanded earlier Monday the Lithuanian government immediately reverse new restrictions on shipments of EU-sanctioned Russian goods through Lithuanian territory to Kaliningrad. The Kremlin claimed Lithuania’s actions were “unprecedented” and “illegal.” “It’s a violation of everything,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
Lithuania’s foreign ministry hit back, saying it was only implementing the sanctions imposed by the EU. “The transit of passengers and non-sanctioned goods to and from the Kaliningrad region through Lithuania continues uninterrupted,” it said. “Lithuania has not imposed any unilateral, individual, or additional restrictions on the transit.”
Later in the day, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also came to Lithuania’s defense. “There is no blockade,” he told reporters. “If the transit through European Union territories are prohibited for some goods, then it is prohibited.”
Tensions are high as many Western diplomats and military experts have warned that Russia could use the strategic exclave of Kaliningrad, which sits between Poland and Lithuania and is supplied by Russia via rail and gas pipelines, to divide NATO and test the West’s resolve.