Russia’s Foreign Ministry has threatened that their response to transit restrictions on Kaliningrad by Lithuania will be “practical” and “not diplomatic,” the Jerusalem Post reports.
Over the past week, Lithuania has implemented a ban on various rail transit goods going to Russia’s far-western exclave of Kaliningrad to comply with EU sanctions on items such as coal, advanced technology, metals and construction materials.
“As for response measures, now possible measures are being worked out in an interdepartmental format,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told state-owned TASS. “Both Lithuania and the EU, through their diplomatic missions in Moscow, were told that such actions are inadmissible and that the steps taken must be changed and the situation returned to a legal and legitimate course. If this is not done, then, of course, and this was emphasized at all levels in Moscow, retaliatory actions will be inevitable.”
“On the question of what they will be…Will they be exclusively in the diplomatic plane? [The] answer is no. They will not be in the diplomatic, but in the practical plane,” she added.
The EU enforcement measure being implemented from Vilnius marks a complete break in a three decade long treaty that’s been in effect…
— The_Real_Fly (@The_Real_Fly) June 19, 2022
Kaliningrad’s governor Alikhanov has already called on Russian federal authorities to prepare tit-for-tat measures against Lithuania in wake of the transit ban.
The blockade of the Kaliningrad🇷🇺region may become a reason for the outbreak of war B/T Russia & NATO
🇪🇺has published a PR on the fifth package of sanctions against🇷🇺
The document,in particular, prohibits transit of goods by 🇷🇺&🇧🇾 transport operators through the territory of 🇪🇺 pic.twitter.com/M7k2XAxP0S
— Marialvw (@arktinentuuli) April 8, 2022
According to Zakharova, however, this ‘tit-for-tat’ may be a little more explosive than Lithuania counted on.
On Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that while it’s “premature” to discuss possible Kremlin responses, “concrete measures” are under discussion in response to the sanctions. “There is no set format, here the main thing for us is to respond to such unfriendly steps, and not meet any deadlines,” he added.
Additionally on Wednesday, Leonid Slutsky, head of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, stated that one possible response to the Kaliningrad restrictions could be cutting off Lithuania from the common electricity supply system between Russia, Belarus and the Baltic states, according to Interfax.
Slutsky added that another possible response could be banning the transit of Lithuanian truckers through Russia. -Jerusalem Post
Meanwhile, Moscow has responded to the use of Western arms in Ukraine.
According to a Thursday statement by Peskov, Russia’s defense ministry will monitor how the West is arming Ukraine with weapons from Germany and the US, adding that the weapons would have to “reach the frontline” without being destroyed on the way.
Peskov was responding to a question over whether Moscow would trust Ukraine’s promises to Western nations not to use provided weapons to attack Russia.
“We carefully record all episodes of the use of these weapons,” he continued. “So, if any of these weapons reach the front lines and are not destroyed by our military, we will track how they are being used.”
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht on Wednesday told lawmakers in Berlin that Ukrainian counterpart Alexy Reznikov assured her that Kiev will only use Western weapons for self defense, and not to strike Russian territory. The day before, Germany delivered seven 155mm PzH 2000 howitzers and other military equipment to the Ukrainian armed forces.