Russia has vowed to retaliate against Lithuania with measures that ‘will have a serious negative impact on the Lithuanian population’ after the country blocked EU-sanctioned goods from reaching the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said Moscow will respond shortly to Lithuania’s move to block deliveries of coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad.
‘Russia will certainly respond to such hostile actions. Relevant measures are being worked out in the interdepartmental format and will be taken in the near future,’ Interfax cited Patrushev as saying.
He said that the counter-measures ‘will have a serious negative impact on the Lithuanian population’.
His warning comes as retired Russian general Evgeny Buzhinsky urged Putin to send nuclear weapons to Kaliningrad.
The President’s spokesman also weighed in, warning Moscow will never trust the West again following the move.
Lt-Gen Evgeny Buzhinsky told Russian state TV that the West is playing with fire after deliveries of coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology were stopped from entering the Russian territory via NATO state Lithuania
Lt-Gen Evgeny Buzhinsky told Russian state TV that the West is playing with fire after deliveries of coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology were stopped from entering the Russian territory via NATO state Lithuania.
Buzhinsky said Lithuania’s decision to ban the delivery of sanctioned goods to Kaliningrad, a Russian outpost on the Baltic Sea surrounded by EU territory, was a ‘threat’ to Russia’s national security.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov meanwhile warned that all trust has now evaporated between the West and Moscow.
‘Relations between Russia and the West will not be back to the previous level, because Moscow will never again trust such ‘partners’,’ he told MSNBC. ‘It will be a lengthy crisis, but we will never trust the West again.’
The threats come after the Kremlin warned of ‘very tough actions’ against Lithuania if it did not reverse its ‘openly hostile move’.
Patrushev, one of Putin’s top allies, arrived in Kaliningrad on Tuesday to discuss national security amid the row with NATO member Lithuania.
He will chair a meeting about security in Russia’s northwest in Kaliningrad, the state RIA news agency said.
RIA said the trip, which included a discussion about transport, was planned before Vilnius banned the transit of goods sanctioned by the European Union through Lithuanian territory to and from the exclave, citing EU sanction rules.
Meanwhile, Buzhinsky said ‘Russia won’t stop’ defending its territory, ‘otherwise they’ll deprive us of Kaliningrad’.
He also threatened Britain will ‘physically cease to exist’ if the new standoff in Lithuania triggers a nuclear Third World War.
The Lithuanian chargé d’affaires in Moscow was told that unless cargo transit was resumed to Kaliningrad in the near future, Russia reserves the right to act to protect its national interests.
The Russian foreign ministry said: ‘We consider provocative measures of the Lithuanian side which violate Lithuania’s international legal obligations, primarily the 2002 Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the European Union on transit between the Kaliningrad region and the rest of the Russian Federation, to be openly hostile.’
Loyalist senator Andrey Klimov warned it was ‘direct aggression against Russia, literally forcing us to immediately resort to proper self-defence’.
Any direct Russian attack on alliance member state Lithuania would be seen as an act of war against NATO and could spark a world war.
Buzhinsky, speaking on the state-owned Russian television channel Russia 1, said the situation is ‘deeply serious’, and claimed the West had ulterior motives.
‘This is a long game to push us out from the Baltic Sea, an attempt to block and cut Kaliningrad off, and finally take it away from us,’ he claimed.
The West intended to ‘block Kaliningrad economically, completely, until our people howl from destitution’, Buzinsky added.
The retired Russian general urged Vladimir Putin to send nuclear weapons to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad after EU-sanctioned goods were blocked from reaching the territory. Pictured: Russia launches the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile in testing on April 20.
Buzhinsky, who served in senior positions in the Russian defence ministry, said: ‘We have to take very decisive steps, starting with diplomatic steps’.
These included nullifying the Soviet recognition of Lithuania’s independence.
Putin should ‘disavow the 1991 recognition of Lithuania, disavow the agreement with the EU on Lithuania, including on their borders, then switch Lithuania off from energy,’ Buzhinsky said.
‘And then finally we must take military measures,’ he said. He urged the Kremlin to take control of the so-called Suvalkovsky corridor – the supply route across Lithuania from Russian ally Belarus.
‘We need to demonstratively move nuclear weapons to Kaliningrad… We’ve got to do something. We’ve got to strengthen our military presence at the border with Lithuania as we did in December last year, and January this year at the border with Ukraine.
‘Tell the Americans, first via confidential channels, that they are playing with fire.
‘You guys will actually play to the point that Russia won’t stop, because this is a threat to our national security, an attempt on our sovereign territory. The world will feel it. Ukrainian grain will feel like a joke compared to our decisive steps.’
Pro-Putin TV anchor Yevgeny Popov then asked: ‘In other words, this is a war with NATO?’
Buzhinsky responded: ‘Yes – what else do we do? Otherwise they’ll simply strangle us. We can’t stop, otherwise they’ll deprive us of Kaliningrad.’
His comments come as the European Union ambassador to Russia arrived at the Russian foreign ministry, the RIA news agency said on Tuesday.
The governor of Kaliningrad region said on Monday that the ministry would summon EU ambassador to Moscow Markus Ederer over Lithuania’s ban on the transit of goods under EU sanctions through Kaliningrad.
Meanwhile, Gen. Buzhinksy also lashed out at British general Sir Patrick Sanders, who took command of the UK’s land forces this week with a rallying call to troops to prepare to fight and beat Russian forces in a Third World War.
‘He doesn’t understand that as a result of the Third World War Britain will physically cease to exist,’ said Buzhinsky.
‘The island will vanish, so I’ve no idea where he or his descendants will live.’
In his message to troops, Gen. Sanders had said: ‘I am the first Chief of the General Staff since 1941 to take command of the Army in the shadow of a land war in Europe involving a continental power.
‘The scale of the enduring threat from Russia shows we’ve entered a new era of insecurity.
‘It is my singular duty to make our Army as lethal and effective as it can be. The time is now and the opportunity is ours to seize.’
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the West’s action against Lithuania ‘openly hostile’.
‘Lithuania must understand that the characterisation of Vilnius’s actions on Kaliningrad transit as ‘hostile’ means the time for talks has gone,’ she told pro-Kremlin TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov.
‘It is them [the Lithuanian authorities] who behave aggressively.
‘They have crossed the line of international law and towards unfriendly, rough actions.
‘It is them who behave provocatively, aggressively – hostile.’
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Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said his country was simply implementing sanctions imposed by the EU.
He said the measures implemented were taken after ‘consultation with the European Commission and under its guidelines.’
‘Sanctioned goods (will) no longer be allowed to transit Lithuanian territory,’ Landsbergis added.
Lithuania had informed Kaliningrad’s railways that from June 18 the transit of some goods from Russia was limited due to EU sanctions.
The foreign ministry emphasised it has not imposed ‘unilateral, individual or additional’ restrictions.
But Russia disagrees, with Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying: ‘This decision is really unprecedented. It’s a violation of everything.’
He warned: ‘We consider this illegal. The situation is more than serious… we need a serious in-depth analysis in order to work out our response.’
The Kaliningrad governor Anton Alikhanov said the move was illegal and violated the agreements that the country committed to when joining the EU.
Konstantin Kosachyov, senate deputy speaker, claimed Lithuania was flouting international law in banning goods reaching Lithuania from Russia via Belarus.
The Kaliningrad exclave, home to some 430,000 people, is surrounded by Lithuania and Poland, another EU country, to the south and isolated from the rest of Russia. 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.
Russian state TV reporter Grigory Yemelyanov, from Channel 1, warned over footage of blocked trains: ‘The attempt to isolate the region is – from the point of view of international law – in fact a casus belli, a term meaning a formal reason to declare war.’