Russiaʼs navy begins training in Kaliningrad oblast after Lithuania blocks transit

Kostia Andreikovets

Russiaʼs Baltic Fleet began training in Kaliningrad oblast after Lithuania imposed a ban on the transit of sanctioned goods through its territory from Russia to Kaliningrad.

According to Russian media, about a thousand servicemen and more than 100 units of combat and special equipment of artillery and missile units take part in the maneuvers.

Gunners and rocket launchers perform "several hundred fire tasks" using multiple rocket launchers "Grad" and "Hurricane", large-caliber guns "Giatsint", self-propelled artillery "Msta-C", "Acacia" and "Gvozdika".

Russiaʼs threats

Russia is already openly threatening Lithuania for its decision. Today, June 20, the Chargé dʼAffaires of Lithuania Virginia Umbrasene was summoned to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She received a "strong protest" and Lithuaniaʼs actions were seen as "openly hostile".

"If in the near future freight transit between Kaliningrad Oblast and the rest of the Russian Federation through Lithuania is not fully restored, Russia reserves the right to take action to protect its national interests," the Foreign Ministry said.

The speaker of Putin, Peskov called Lithuaniaʼs decision illegal, noting that Russia is already determining the answer. The federationʼs council says Russia will be "free to resolve the issue by any means" if the EU does not rectify the situation with the "blockade of Kaliningrad".

Kaliningrad Oblast Governor Anton Alikhanov said the authorities were working on "retaliatory measures" that could affect the "transport complex" of the Baltic states.

The reaction of Ukraine and the EU

The Foreign Minister of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba stated that Russia is to blame for this situation. "Russia has no right to threaten Lithuania. Moscow must blame itself for the consequences of an unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. We welcome Lithuaniaʼs principled position and strongly support our Lithuanian friends," Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Joseph Borrell does not see serious tensions with Russia over the suspension of transit.

"What is happening in Kaliningrad will not affect the rest of the world, but what is happening in Ukraine will have a very strong impact on the rest of the world," Borrel said.

  • On June 18, the Lithuanian authorities imposed a ban on the rail transit of sanctioned goods through its territory to Russiaʼs Kaliningrad oblast. The ban affected coal, metals, cement, wood, building materials, and high-tech products. According to the governor of Kaliningrad oblast Anton Alikhanov, 40-50% of all cargoes were banned.
  • The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said that the restrictions were imposed after consultation with and under the leadership of the European Commission.