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Moscow fumes over EU blockade of Baltic outpost

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Russia summoned EU ambassador to Moscow Markus Ederer on Tuesday amid a dispute over a rail blockade that has halted shipments of many basic goods to a Russian outpost on the Baltic Sea, the latest stand-off over sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine, accoridng to Reuters.

Russia demanded earlier Monday the Lithuanian government immediately reverse new restrictions on shipments of EU-sanctioned Russian goods through Lithuanian territory to Kaliningrad.

The Kremlin claimed Lithuania’s actions were unprecedented and illegal. “It’s a violation of everything,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, Politico reports.

Vilnius and Brussels say Lithuania is implementing new EU sanctions that came into force on Saturday. Moscow calls the move an illegal blockade and has threatened unspecified retaliation. 

Lithuania’s foreign ministry hit back, saying it was only implementing the sanctions imposed by the EU. “The transit of passengers and non-sanctioned goods to and from the Kaliningrad region through Lithuania continues uninterrupted,” it said. “Lithuania has not imposed any unilateral, individual, or additional restrictions on the transit.”

Tensions are high as many Western diplomats and military experts have warned that Russia could use the strategic exclave of Kaliningrad, which sits between Poland and Lithuania and is supplied by Russia via rail and gas pipelines, to divide NATO and test the West’s resolve.