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Russia’s retaliation for ban on transit to Kaliningrad to be practical — Foreign Ministry

Possible counter-steps are being worked out in an interdepartmental format, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova pointed out

MOSCOW, June 22. /TASS/. Russia’s retaliation against Lithuania for the partial ban on Russian transit to Kaliningrad will be practical, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing on Wednesday.

"As for retaliatory measures, possible counter-steps are being worked out in an interdepartmental format. Both Lithuania and the EU have been notified through their diplomatic missions in Moscow that such actions are inadmissible and that the steps taken should be overturned and the situation put back on the legal, legitimate track. If this fails to be done, then, of course, retaliatory moves will be inevitable. This was emphasized at all levels in Moscow," she said.

"Regarding the question what they will be like. Will they be exclusively in the diplomatic dimension? The answer is: NO. They will not be in the diplomatic dimension. They will be practical," Zakharova said.

Asked when the retaliation might follow and what it would be like, Zakharova said that it depended on whether Lithuania would agree to lift the ban on transit.

The Kaliningrad Region’s governor, Anton Alikhanov, earlier said that the Lithuanian Railways had notified the Kaliningrad Region Railways that starting from June 18 they limited the transit of a number of goods from Russia to the exclave region due to the European sanctions against Moscow. Alikhanov said that Lithuania's actions were illegal and violated agreements, because when the country joined the EU, it guaranteed unhampered transit to the region. Goods will be ferried by sea, he added. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that it considered Lithuania's actions as openly hostile and demanded that the restrictions be lifted immediately. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov slammed Vilnius’s decision as unprecedented and illegal. Within days Russia will carry out "deep analysis" of the situation and devise retaliatory measures, he said.

In the meantime, Lithuania argues that it has not introduced any unilateral or additional restrictions, but merely "consistently applies EU sanctions." EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on Monday evening said that there was no blockade of Kaliningrad and the overland transit of passengers and goods continued, while the transit ban applied only to goods included in the EU’s sanction lists.