Lithuania has imposed its own sanctions on Moscow and is blocking transit through its own territory to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Moscow can take revenge accordingly – militarily or by cutting off the power supply to the NATO country.
On Saturday the Lithuanian leadership explainedthat the sanctions against the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad come into force. This means that all goods transport from Russia via Belarus to Kaliningrad and back via the land connection will be prohibited by the NATO state if the products involved are sanctioned by the EU. According to Reuters, this also affects coal, metals, construction material and “advanced technologies”. In view of the fact that around half of all goods flow into the area via the railway connection, this will somewhat worsen the supply situation there.
While the Eastern European NATO countries (particularly those in the Baltic States) are obviously hoping that Russia will try to militarily carve out a corridor, Moscow’s reaction is likely to be rather asymmetrical. The English-language Russian site “StalkerZone” reported:
For some, the incident was a reason to recall the Suwalki Corridor and the prospect of finally solving the issue through military means. In principle, there is a legal basis for this. The Kaliningrad Transit is an integral part of the agreement package between Lithuania, Russia and the European Union. After it was guaranteed, Lithuania received the ratification of the State Border Treaty. In the event of a unilateral Vilnius violation of the transit arrangements, the legitimacy of the border will be lost, and Moscow will gain the right to hold the border wherever it sees fit.
But this is still an extreme option. Of course, the risks of a direct clash between Russia and NATO increased significantly yesterday, and there are enough interested parties overseas who, given the fact that Ukraine is not holding up, are trying to increase the risk by also putting the Balts in the oven throw. I hope that there will be no world war this time, but a war of nerves cannot be avoided.
The Russian analysts assume that Moscow will pull the lever in the energy supply, because the Baltic countries are still largely dependent on the Soviet grid. The so-called “BRELL ring” (see the StalkerZone article for a graphic) includes the power grid of northwestern Russia, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Since Lithuania shut down its nuclear power plant in Visaginas under pressure from the EU, it no longer has energy autonomy in the electricity sector. This means: If Moscow cuts off the Baltic country’s juice, there will be rolling blackouts. At the same time, in recent years Moscow has ensured that Kaliningrad can become self-sufficient in terms of electricity. Lithuania would then have to buy electricity from Belarus, which it has so far refused to do (because Minsk wants to build a nuclear power plant 50 kilometers from the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius). The questions that then arise are: will the Lithuanians inquire in Minsk? And even more so, whether Lukashenko then agrees and stabs Moscow in the back, or whether he then categorically refuses to supply electricity.
In any case, Lithuania plays a dangerous game, which threatens the stability of the entire Baltic region. In Vilnius one must be aware that Moscow will definitely react to this blockade – and above all that the reaction (despite the possibility resulting from the trilateral agreement) will not be military. In addition, the Lithuanian government should also be aware that Moscow will take action where it hurts the people. Even if the Kremlin has so far shown extreme reluctance towards Lithuania (and the other Baltic countries Latvia and Estonia), although they continue to trample on the minority rights of the Russian population in their countries, despite EU requirements.