Staunton, Oct. 12 – In response to Lithuania’s tightening of controls over Russian trains and trucks going between Kaliningrad and Russia proper and in expectation that the West may soon impose a complete land blockade on that exclave in response to Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory, Moscow is expanding its use of ships to supply that federal subject.
In response to requests from Kaliningrad, Moscow has added additional ships to the line between Kaliningrad and the Russian Federation and boosted subsidies to goods being carried in both directions to minimize what officials say is already more than one billion US dollars in losses to the Kaliningrad economy (ritmeurasia.org/news–2022-10-12–kaliningrad-v-polublokade-spasaet-morskoj-put-62490).
Russia’s fears that the West would impose a complete blockade on transportation and communication with Kaliningrad extend back to the wake of Putin’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. They were heightened earlier this year when Lithuania moved unilaterally to restrict Russian trade.
But then they receded when the EU insisted that Lithuania not apply the sanctions regime directed at Russia as a whole to trade between the Russian Federation and Kaliningrad. In recent weeks, however, tensions have again increased after Lithuania set new quotas for some goods on this route and also opened an x-ray monitoring site to monitor goods Russian trains are carrying.
Moscow has responded this time around not with expressions of outrage but rather with new subsidize for goods moving between Kaliningrad and Russia proper and the addition of more ships to carry those goods via the Baltic Sea where no one is in a position to stop them except by actions that would constitute a declaration of war.
Window on Eurasia — New Series