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Explainer: Why Russia and Lithuania are in heightened tensions | WGN Radio 720

New tensions between Moscow and the West follow Lithuania’s decision to suspend the transportation of some goods to Russia’s Kaliningrad region through its territory as part of the European Union’s sanctions against the Kremlin. It is increasing.

The Kremlin has warned that the sanctions resulting from the invasion of Ukraine will have a “significant negative impact” on the Lithuanian people and will retaliate in fear of a direct conflict between Russia and NATO.

Let’s see why tensions are rising in Kaliningrad, which is part of Russia in the Baltic Sea, which is separated from other countries.

The westernmost territory of Russia

The Kaliningrad region was once part of Germany’s East Prussia and was taken over by the Soviet Union after World War II in line with the 1945 Potsdam Conference between the Allies. Königsberg, the capital of East Prussia, has been renamed Kaliningrad on behalf of Bolshevik leader Mikhail Kalinin.

In the last few months of World War II, an estimated 2 million Germans fled the territory and were forcibly expelled after the hostilities ended.

Soviet authorities have developed Kaliningrad as a major ice-free port and a major fishing center, encouraging people from other regions to move to its territory. Since the Cold War, Kaliningrad has also served as the main base for the Russian Baltic Fleet.

However, since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of the Baltic states, Kaliningrad has been separated from the rest of Russia by Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and now all NATO members. To the south is another NATO member, Poland.

Army bastion

As relations between Russia and the Western world deteriorated, Kaliningrad’s military role expanded. The place put it at the forefront of Moscow’s efforts to counter what it described as NATO’s hostile policy.

The Kremlin systematically strengthened its army there, armed with state-of-the-art weapons such as precision-guided munition missiles and a series of air defense systems.

As the region’s military importance grows, its reliance on goods via Poland and Lithuania has become particularly vulnerable.

Transit stop

Lithuania emphasized that the ban on the movement of sanctioned objects is part of the fourth package of EU sanctions against Russia and applies only to steel and steel after June 17th.

The Vilnius government refused to explain the move as Russia’s blockade, emphasizing that unlicensed goods and railroad passengers could still pass through Lithuania.

In line with EU decisions, coal will be banned in August and shipments of oil and petroleum products will be suspended in December.

Moscow mars response

Moscow has formally protested the suspension of shipments to Kaliningrad for violating the Russian-EU agreement on the free transport of cargo to Kaliningrad.

Governor Anton Alikhanov of Kaliningrad said the ban would affect up to half of all items brought into the region, including cement and other construction materials.

Nikolai Patrushev, a strong secretary of the Security Council of Russia and a close friend of President Vladimir Putin, visited Kaliningrad on Tuesday to meet with local officials. He described the restrictions as “hostile behavior” and warned that Moscow would respond with unspecified measures that “had a significant negative impact on the Lithuanian population.”

Patrushev did not elaborate, but Alihanov suggested that Russia’s response could include blocking the flow of cargo through ports in Lithuania and other Baltic states.

However, Lithuania has significantly reduced its economic and energy dependence on Russia and has recently become the first EU country to stop using Russia’s gas. It no longer imported Russian oil, but stopped importing Russian electricity. Most Russian transit transport via Lithuanian ports has already been suspended under EU sanctions, but Moscow will move to limit the transit of cargo from third countries via Lithuania. There is a possibility.

Putin decides on Russia’s response after receiving a report from Patrushev.

The conflict between Russia and Lithuania is part of their rocky relationship, which dates back to 1940 when Moscow annexed the country with Estonia and Latvia. 1991.

Fear of escalation

Some people in the west have taken military action to secure a land route between Russia’s allies Belarus and the Kaliningrad region via the so-called Svauki Gap, Poland’s 65 km (40 miles) land. I’ve long been afraid that I might be paying attention. Border with Lithuania.

Russia’s national television rhetoric has risen, and commentator Vladimir Solobyov has blamed the western part of the brinkmanship that is ticking the clock for World War III.

Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas warned on Wednesday about the dangers of Russia’s provocation in the tensions of Kaliningrad. “When you have an army and they are dominated by half-hearted wit-I apologize for the expression-of course you can expect everything,” he said.

The use of troops in the Baltic states could exceed the capabilities of Moscow’s conventional weapons, as most of the Russian troops are stagnant in Ukraine.

Russia’s attempt to use force against Poland or Lithuania causes a direct dispute with NATO, which is obliged to protect any of its members under the mutual defense clause of the Charter known as Article 5. Probably.

On Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Edward Price emphasized Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to the clause. This is explained as NATO’s “foundation” principle.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov responded by warning the EU and NATO of the “dangerous rhetorical game” over Kaliningrad. “A certain influential and powerful army in the West is doing everything it can to further exacerbate tensions in relations with Russia,” he said. “Avoid military conflicts with us.” Some people have no restrictions on inventing scenarios that they don’t think they can. ”

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Liudas Dapkus in Vilnius, Lithuania contributed.

Explainer: Why Russia and Lithuania are in heightened tensions | WGN Radio 720

Source link Explainer: Why Russia and Lithuania are in heightened tensions | WGN Radio 720

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