Russia Sanctions Lithuania for Supporting Ukraine
Russia has imposed sanctions against Lithuania and embargoed the port of Klaipeda in response to its foreign policy with Ukraine
On Thursday morning the Lithuanian parliament condemned the military aggression of the Russian Federation in Ukraine and its occupation of the territory of a sovereign country. The parliament said that it strongly supports the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine and expressed political solidarity with the new Ukrainian authorities; they also supported sanctions against Russia, while favoring visa liberalization and the early signing of the European Union Association Agreement with Ukraine slated for next week.
In response, Russia has temporarily suspended the import of food products into the Customs Union. If a Western (specifically, American) company wants to deliver goods through Lithuania to Russia or a Customs Union state, Russian officials will order it to go “through other ports which do not belong to Lithuania [or] to certain other countries,” according to Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius. Russian media calls Lithuania’s pro-Ukrainian policy “anti-Russian.”
Lithuania’s exports to Russia amount for a fifth of its total exports and remain an integral part of its economy.
“This is a way for Russia to show that having political positions which do not meet their interests are punished in some way,” said Robertas Dargis, president of the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists. “In Lithuania’s case, punishment is usually through economic means, which we saw many times previously.”
On Friday, a cooperation and partnership agreement was signed between the Klaipeda State Seaport and the Port of Houston, Texas.
“Although these Russian commentators do not say so, what Moscow is doing in Klaipeda is not only an act of revenge against Lithuania but a test of Western and especially NATO resolve. In the absence of a clear and forceful response, more such testing of the alliance is unfortunately likely in the coming days.” said political analyst Paul Goble.