A Lithuanian rail ban has created a furor in Russia, and the Kremlin is fuming. As the ban comes into effect, Lithuanian officials have slammed Russia’s reaction to the measure, which they say is simply propaganda. But the Russians, in fact, have violated every international treaty and Lithuania has not violated them.
The rail ban to the region in Russia comes as Lithuania is refusing to transport EU-sanctioned goods through its territory. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that Russia will respond “practically.” She pointed to the fire at a Novoshakhtinsk refinery. The blaze began after a Ukrainian drone crashed into a heat transfer unit, sparking a blaze. Local emergency services say the blaze has been put out.
The ban is aimed at blocking Kaliningrad’s access to steel and other basic goods. It is not clear why Lithuania is doing this, but Putin’s ally in Kaliningrad warns that if Lithuania does not immediately lift the rail ban, it will retaliate. Moreover, Lithuania’s defense and security committee chairman claims that Lithuania’s actions show that Russia can no longer trust the West, and that its actions would have a detrimental effect on the Lithuanian people. This decision raises fears of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.
As a result of the Russian rail ban to Lithuania, Moscow has summoned the EU’s ambassador in Moscow to discuss the matter. The blockade of the rail route from Lithuania to Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea, has created a tense atmosphere. The Kreml has threatened to launch military operations if the region doesn’t agree to the Russian railroad ban.
Meanwhile, in eastern Ukraine, Russian forces have laid a “curtain of fire” over the region, including a town called Toshkivka, with a pre-war population of about 5,000 people. The town is located 25 km south of Severodonetsk in the Luhansk region. The city was hit by several Russian missile attacks last week, and the Governor of the region, Serhiy Haidai, said that everything “can burn” was indeed on fire. He also confirmed that the Russian military has taken over the town of Azot and damaged some buildings.
A tense atmosphere in Moscow was further heightened when Germany warned Russia not to seek retaliatory measures against Lithuania. The US embassy in Moscow has also been relocated to a new address named after pro-Kremlin separatists in Ukraine. With tensions high, it’s no wonder that the Russian president is fuming over the Lithuania rail ban.