Russia Warns Lithuania of Consequences
We need Russia’s aggression to end, not expand, and we need leaders who can keep a level head during this time.
From CNBC. A new front in tensions between Russia and NATO has opened up after one of the Western military alliance’s members, Lithuania, banned the transit of some goods coming from Russia to its exclave Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea.
Russia has vowed to retaliate over what it described as the “hostile actions” of Lithuania, warning of “serious” consequences, while NATO members have reiterated their support for the country.
Here’s a brief guide to what’s going on, and why it matters as the Russia-Ukraine conflict rumbles on in the background.
Lithuania said last week that it would ban the transit of some EU-sanctioned goods coming from Russia across its territory to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad….
Russia responded to Lithuania, a former Soviet republic, by calling the move an “unprecedented” and “hostile” act, with its Foreign Ministry issuing a statement Tuesday in which it said “if in the near future cargo transit between the Kaliningrad region and the rest of the territory of the Russian Federation through Lithuania is not restored in full, then Russia reserves the right to take actions to protect its national interests.”
What is Kaliningrad?
Kaliningrad is a small Russian exclave located on the Baltic Sea and sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland. It is home to around 487,000 people and covers an area of around 86 square miles.
Once part of the German empire, it was seized by Soviet troops from Nazi Germany in 1945 and has remained in Russian hands ever since, becoming an important seaport for Russia allowing it straightforward access to the Baltic Sea. Indeed, the Kaliningrad Oblast (or province) acts as the headquarters of Russia’s Baltic Fleet….
What could happen next?
It’s uncertain how Moscow will react to Lithuania’s move.
On Monday, President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, called the move “illegal” and said “this decision is really unprecedented.”
“The situation is more than serious. … We need a serious in-depth analysis in order to work out our response,” he added.
Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement Monday saying “the transit of passengers and non-sanctioned goods to and from the Kaliningrad region through Lithuania continues uninterrupted.”
It added that Lithuania “has not imposed any unilateral, individual, or additional restrictions on the transit” and that it is consistently implementing EU sanctions….
Timothy Ash, senior sovereign strategist at BlueBay Asset Management, commented Tuesday that “it’s fair to say that Kaliningrad is a strategic imperative for Russia” noting that defending and sustaining it certainly is.
“Russia will react for sure, the only question is what that will be … [and] what Russia could do militarily,” he noted….
When asked on Wednesday whether Russia’s response would be exclusively diplomatic or would go further, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said “the answer is no. They will not be diplomatic, but practical….”
Why does it matter?
Tensions between Russia and NATO are already heightened as a result of the war in Ukraine and the move by Lithuania has ratcheted those up further, potentially putting a NATO country (and the entire alliance) in line for a direct confrontation with Russia.
A key pillar of the NATO alliance is the concept of collective defense: Known as Article 5, it means that if one member is attacked, it is considered an attack on the entire group with all members committed to protecting each other….
Russia will have to calibrate its response to Lithuania carefully, knowing that any direct attack will be seen as an attack on all NATO members by the organization….
How are you praying for Lithuania, Ukraine, and this situation as a whole? Share your thoughts and prayers below.
(Excerpt from CNBC. Photo Credit: Canva)
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