SCOTT RITTER: Lithuania’s Brinkmanship

The Kaliningrad situation must be resolved quickly. From Scott Ritter at consortiumnews.com:

The restoration of Russia’s rail connection with Kaliningrad is urgently needed to avoid a conflict in the Baltics that has worried NATO for a long time.

Lithuanian government building in Vilnius. (Pofka, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

On June 18 the government of Lithuania acted on a decision by the European Commission that goods and cargo subject to European Union sanctions could be prohibited from transiting between one part of Russia to another, so long as they passed through E.U. territory.

Almost immediately Lithuania moved to block Russia from shipping certain categories of goods and materials by rail to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, encompassing the former East Prussian Baltic port city of Konigsberg and its surrounding environs. They were absorbed into Russia proper as a form of war reparations at the end of the Second World War.

Lithuania cited its legal obligation as an E.U. member to enforce E.U. sanctions targeting Russia. Russia, citing a 2002 treaty with Lithuania which ostensibly prohibits such an action, has called the Lithuanian move a blockade and has threatened a military response.

Lithuania, as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, is afforded the collective security guarantees spelled out in Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which stipulate that an attack against one member is an attack against all. Through its actions, Lithuania risked bringing Russia and NATO to the brink of armed conflict, the consequences of which could be dire for the entire world given the respective nuclear arsenals of the two sides.

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