Kaliningrad at the center of a new crisis between Russia and the West

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Russian semi-enclave of Kaliningrad, located on the Baltic Sea and separated from the mainland by Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus, has triggered a new crisis in the region.

Lithuania’s decision to block the transit of some goods on the EU sanctions list to Kaliningrad through its territory has once again brought Russia and the West face to face even as the war in Ukraine continues to rage. rabies after four months.

While Russia can reach Kaliningrad via the railway over Lithuania, the region surrounded by NATO members has been at the center of discussions in recent days.

A strategic and military asset of Russia, Kaliningrad is also the only Russian port on the Baltic ice-free all year round.

Kaliningrad was previously part of Germany until the end of World War II. Since then it has been an isolated Russian province.

Currently, Russia has deployed nuclear-capable missiles in the region of 223 square kilometers (86 square miles).

After NATO member Lithuania blocked the transit of such goods to Kaliningrad, Russia warned that its response could be harsh.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said last week that Vilnius was not acting on its own, noting European Commission guidance on sanctions in place since June 17.

Coal, metal, construction and technology materials are on Lithuania’s sanctions list, which is under the protective umbrella of NATO.

In a series of statements, Moscow also criticized the country’s rail transit restrictions from Russia to its semi-enclave.

Meanwhile, the United States lent its support to Lithuania, saying an attack on a NATO member would be considered an attack on the entire alliance.

Most rail transit between Russia and Kaliningrad passes through Belarus and Lithuania.

The EU has imposed six rounds of sanctions against Moscow since Russia began its war in Ukraine on February 24.

The packages target, among others, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and include a ban on oil and coal imports and exports of luxury goods. They also exclude Russian and Belarusian banks from using the international SWIFT system.

*Written by Jeyhun Aliyev from Ankara

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