Separately, the Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday summoned the European Union ambassador to Russia, Markus Ederer, and “expressed a resolute protest” over the transit ban. The ministry said in a statement that it “demanded an immediate resumption of the normal operation” of the transit, otherwise “retaliatory measures will follow."
Kaliningrad, home to some 430,000 people, is isolated from the rest of Russia and borders EU members Lithuania and Poland. Trains with goods for Kaliningrad travel via Belarus and Lithuania; there’s no transit through Poland. Russia can still supply the exclave by sea without falling foul of EU sanctions.
The Lithuanian government stressed in a written statement Tuesday that “the transit of passengers and non-sanctioned goods to and from the Kaliningrad region through Lithuania continues uninterrupted,” and that the ban on transit of sanctioned goods was merely part the fourth package of EU sanctions against Russia.
Top Lithuanian officials decried Russia's reaction to the measure as an attempt by the Kremlin to wind up a propaganda campaign trying to create an image of a “blockade” mainly for internal consumption.
Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas tweeted Monday that “European countries may continue to be intimidated by Russia” … but “let’s not lose the ability to separate disinformation and propaganda from real possibilities.”
The country's prime minister, Ingrida Simonyte, rejected claims about the blockade of Kaliningrad is a product of Kremlin propaganda.
“It's just that EU sanctions have come into force on some of the goods included in the package, namely steel and ferrous metals. The transportation of all other goods that are either unsanctioned or not yet subject to sanctions is continuing, as is the transit of passengers” she said, noting the great irony behind Russia’s references to international treaties.
“I don’t know if there’s any international treaty left that Russia hasn’t violated yet,” Simonyte said.