In Brussels, "fierce" disagreements, Germany in fear, while Lithuania gives up?
Lithuania could lift its restrictions on goods passing by rail between mainland Russia and Kaliningrad as early as early July.Source: B92
This was stated to Reuters on Wednesday by unnamed EU officials.
Moscow and Brussels have been at odds since June 17, when Vilnius decided to suspend the transit of sanctioned goods between Kaliningrad and the rest of Russia.
The Lithuanian authorities have announced that they are following the instructions from Brussels and in accordance with the restrictions imposed on Moscow due to the conflict in Ukraine.
The ban left Russia with only sea routes to supply the exclave in a sandwich between Lithuania and Poland.
Sources told the agency that it is proving difficult for the bloc to maintain its strict sanctions, while avoiding further escalation with Russia. As a result, EU officials are negotiating the exemption of Kaliningrad from sanctions, which potentially opens the way for an agreement in the coming days.
According to officials, Lithuania fears that Moscow could use force to create a land corridor through its territory that connects the exclave with the rest of Russia, if the blockade remains.
Germany, which reportedly actively supports the search for a compromise, is also worried that the presence of its troops in the Baltic country could see that and the rest of NATO involved in a direct military confrontation with Russia, sources said.
"We have to face reality," said one official, "with direct knowledge of the EU discussions," acknowledging that the final outcome of the Kaliningrad conflict could seem unfair to the bloc. Russian President Vladimir Putin has much more influence than us. It is in our interest to find a compromise," the official said.
Earlier this week, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is now deputy chairman of the country's National Security Council, warned that Moscow's response to Lithuania's actions could be "asymmetric" and include economic measures "capable of shutting off oxygen to the Baltic neighbors that have taken hostile actions".
Over the weekend, Lithuanian MEP Petras Auštrevičius also said that "fierce" discussions on the blockade of Kaliningrad were underway in Brussels and that Russia was "winning at this moment".
"A document has been created that would enable the movement of sanctioned goods across the territory of the EU 'from Russia to Russia,'" Auštrevičius wrote in a post on Facebook.
The MEP called on the EU "to adhere to the previously agreed position and not succumb to Russian pressure". He also said that Lithuania could veto the decision on Kaliningrad if it is made by Brussels.