Russia blames U.S. for Kaliningrad transit restrictions

A crane lifts a shipping container at a commercial port in Kaliningrad, Russia October 28, 2021. REUTERS/Vitaly Nevar/File Photo

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  • This content was produced in Russia, where law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.

MOSCOW, June 24 (Reuters) – Moscow’s Foreign Ministry on Friday accused the United States of barring Lithuania from passing sanctioned goods between the Russian mainland and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, which increased the already high tensions between Moscow and the West.

“The so-called ‘Collective West’, with the explicit instruction of the White House, imposed a ban on rail transit of a wide range of goods through the Kaliningrad region,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. in a statement released Friday.

He said the move was part of a pattern of “increasingly hostile actions on the American side” toward Russia.

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European Union member Lithuania began blocking the transit of Russian goods subject to EU sanctions last Saturday after new restrictions came into effect.

Moscow slammed the move, calling it a “blockade” and promising a firm response. Vilnius said it was ready if Russia disconnected Lithuania from a regional power grid.

Russian officials have repeatedly estimated that the ban would stop 30% or 50% of cargo traffic, but also said goods could be quickly re-routed on ships crossing the Baltic Sea.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said Wednesday that Russian claims of a blockade were false.

She said passenger transit continued uninterrupted and the affected goods accounted for only 1% of total Russian cargo transit to Kaliningrad.

Moscow also said on Friday that Washington’s refusal to lift airspace sanctions allowing a Russian plane to fly to the United States to pick up Russian diplomats showed its calls for continued dialogue were insincere. .

Given the deterioration in relations, Russia said it was “impossible” to hold expert-level consultations with Washington on a number of bilateral issues that were due to take place in the near future. He did not specify which issues he was referring to, or when the talks were to take place.

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Reuters reporting; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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