Contrary to the agreements

Contrary to the agreements

Mikhail Katkov

Vilnius has actually blocked the land transport corridor connecting “mainland” Russia with the Kaliningrad region. According to preliminary forecasts, supplies to the enclave may be reduced by four times, and the list of goods will be reduced by half. RIA Novosti understood the situation.
Cut off region
Vilnius has banned the transit of sanctioned goods since June 18, saying that it has coordinated actions with the European Union. According to the governor of the Kaliningrad region Anton Alikhanov, this is approximately 40-50 percent of the range of goods, the embargo on which can lead to economic strangulation of the region.
Dmitry Chemakin, former vice-president of the Kaliningrad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, believes that the volume of deliveries may fall four times. However, local authorities and businesses were preparing for difficulties in advance, so they expect to avoid extremely negative scenarios.
In the meantime, they plan to increase the number of ferries that will run between Ust-Luga and Baltiysk. Four vessels are currently operating on the line, and another one will appear in September. In the event of a complete transport blockade of the Kaliningrad region, about 20 ships of various classes will be required, but even five will be enough to load the rail-ferry complex in Baltiysk by 100%. Spending on infrastructure development, according to Alikhanov’s preliminary estimate, will amount to about ten billion rubles. The head of the region hopes for the help of the federal center.
However, the speed of construction depends not only on the source and amount of funding, but also on logistics – building materials are also under sanctions. In addition, as Dmitry Lyskov, press secretary of the governor of the Kaliningrad region, told RIA Novosti, coal will no longer be imported through Lithuania in August, and other types of fuel in December.
“From the beginning of the crisis, many enterprises began to switch to ferry transportation, realizing that sooner or later Lithuania will close the borders. But the ships sail to us completely full, and empty to Ust-Luga. If the sea remains the only opportunity for transit, subsidies from the federal center. O-therwise, prices for imported goods will be very high for consumers,” says Svetlana Nizhegorodova, business ombudsman for the Kaliningrad region. At the same time, the human rights activist is sure that with the right number of ferries and the financial support of the carrier, the impact of sanctions on the region can be minimized.
Contrary to the agreements
In 2021, 50 percent of cargo reached the region by rail, 40 percent by sea, and 10 percent by cars and planes. The fifth package of European sanctions, introduced against Russia in April 2022, affected cargo transportation, but Kaliningrad was an exception. It was believed that this was due to the agreements signed in the early 2000s, according to which Lithuania undertook not to interfere with supplies to the Russian exclave in order to get into the European Union.
The vice-speaker of the upper house of parliament, Konstantin Kosachev, said that Lithuania violated international legal acts when it banned the transit of goods. In addition to agreements between Russia and the EU, he mentioned the WTO tariff and trade agreement and international transport conventions. The politician did not rule out that in the future the West may also violate the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, thanks to which ships come to the Kaliningrad region through neutral waters. It is likely that Russia’s opponents will do the same with airspace, the senator believes.
Member of the Federation Council Andrei Klimov called the blockade a direct aggression and suggested resorting to self-defense. His colleague Andrei Klishas regarded the Lithuanian restrictions as an encroachment on Ru-ssia’s sovereignty and considered a “very harsh” resp-onse possible. “Let them look at Ukraine and think about what other methods can be from our side,” said Senator Sergei Tsekov.
The Russian Foreign Ministry demanded that the Lithuanian authorities immediately lift all the restrictions that Moscow considers “openly hostile.” Otherwise, Russia reserves the right to retaliate. At the same time, what exactly the reaction could be, the department did not explain.
“Turn off the light, turn off the gas”
In the Western media, a popular version is that in the event of a blockade of the Kaliningrad region, Russia will break through the so-called Suwalki corridor from the territory of Belarus to it. Its length is about 65 kilometers straight or about 100 kilometers along the Polish-Lithuanian border. The route was named after the Polish city of Suwalki.
However, experts consider the military scenario the least likely of all possible. Despite public statements, politicians and diplomats understand that an invasion of one of the NATO countries can lead to irreparable consequences, up to the outbreak of a third world war.
“Lithuania blocked Kaliningrad on land, and we, with the support of Belarus, can respond in kind. Moreover, the entire Baltic will suffer, local ports will be completely useless,” explains Alexei Leonkov, editor of Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine.
Economist Leonid Khazanov agrees with him, but he proposes to add an energy blockade to the transport blockade. “There is a liquefied gas processing terminal in Klaipeda. Its capacity is four billion cubic meters. If Russia stops selling blue fuel to Lithuanians, not only this enterprise, but the entire local stunted industry will stop without firing a shot,” the expert points out.
Nevertheless, experts believe that attempts to reach an agreement with the Lithuanians will lead nowhere. Any chances of success are possible only in negotiations with the European Union, where there are different opinions regarding relations with Moscow.
In early April, Vilnius announced its complete gas independence from Moscow. However, experts do not rule out that we are talking about deliveries through the pipeline, while liquefied gas, including Russian, is transported and transported by sea.
In addition, there are proposals to disconnect Lithuania from the BRELL single electric ring, which also includes Russia, Belarus, Latvia and Estonia. The Baltic countries were going to leave the energy system by 2025, but in this case, Vilnius may be rushed.

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