December 2, 2022

Ukraine News: Kremlin Calls 2 Captured Americans ‘Soldiers of Fortune’

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Credit …Email Dick for the New York Times

Russian officials on Monday threatened NATO member Lithuania with retaliation if the Baltic state did not immediately lift a ban on some freight traffic to Russia’s Kaliningrad region. ۔

Citing EU directives, Lithuanian Railways said on Friday it was blocking the movement of goods from Russia, which has been approved by the European bloc.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry S. Peskov told reporters the situation was “more serious”. He called the new sanctions an “element of blockade” and a “violation of everything” in the region.

Authorities in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, accustomed to Russian threats, mostly took Moscow’s warnings as a blow.

“We are not particularly bothered by the Russian threat,” said Lorinas Casionas, chairman of the Lithuanian parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee. “The Kremlin has very little power to retaliate.”

He added that a military response from Russia was unlikely because Lithuania was a member of NATO. If it weren’t for that, they would probably consider it.

Russia’s anger in Lithuania erupted on Monday after Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky warned that Moscow was “more hostile” in the coming days to its nation’s efforts to join the European Union against Ukraine and European countries. Activity “will begin.

Up to 50 percent of all rail cargo shipped between mainland Russia and Kaliningrad – which Russian officials say includes metals in addition to building materials, concrete and other materials – will be affected by the ban announced last week. ۔ The sanctions exposed the region’s severe weakness, which is part of Russia but not the rest of the country. It shares borders with the Baltic Sea, but is sandwiched between two NATO members, Lithuania and Poland.

Kaliningrad, which was snatched from Germany by the Soviet army in 1945, was once described by Russia as a symbol of its growing ties with Europe. But it has recently become an unstable east-west fault line.

In the 1990s, Russian authorities commemorated the role of Kaliningrad’s past relations with Germany, commemorating the life and work of 18th-century German philosopher Emmanuel Kant, who was born and lived in the regional capital K کnigsberg. Were, whose name is now Kaliningrad.

More recently, however, Moscow has sought to erase traces of Germany’s deep historical ties from the region – although Germany has made no claim to Kaliningrad and has shown no interest in reclaiming it. In stark contrast to Russia’s views on Soviet territory, including Ukraine.

In the grip of increasingly aggressive nationalism, Russia has scrapped policies that promoted Russia as part of Europe and moved modern Alexander missiles to Kaliningrad. Lithuania’s defense minister said in April that Russia had nuclear weapons in the region, which Moscow denies.

Russia’s foreign ministry on Monday summoned Lithuania’s top envoy over what he called “open hostility” sanctions.

Russia reserves the right to take steps to protect its national interests if cargo traffic between the Kaliningrad region and the rest of the Russian Federation via Lithuania is not fully restored in the near future, the ministry said. ” In a statement

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielles Landsberg defended the ban on deliveries to Kaliningrad, saying his country was only meeting EU sanctions.

“It’s not Lithuania doing anything, it’s European sanctions that are starting to work,” he said. Told reporters Ahead of a meeting of European foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday.

Anton Alikhanov, Governor of Kaliningrad, Said His government was already working to find alternative routes for cargo shipments, especially routes that included metals and construction materials. He said one option might be to move cargo by sea, which would require up to seven ships to meet demand before the end of the year.

He added that the local government was considering at least three retaliatory options for proposing to the Kremlin, including a possible ban on shipments to Lithuanian ports via Russia.

Russia’s relations with Lithuania, formerly part of the Soviet Union, have never been close, but have been dramatically unveiled in recent months as Lithuania calls for tougher EU sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Played an important role.

Just two weeks ago, a member of Russia’s parliament from Mr Putin’s United Russia party introduced a bill that outlawed Lithuania’s 1990 declaration of independence. The bill is aimed at reversing the collapse of the Soviet Union, which Mr Putin lamented as “the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.”

But, as the stagnant advance of Russian troops in Ukraine has shown, there is a big difference between Mr Putin’s desire to reverse history and his country’s capabilities. Any military action against Lithuania would bring Russia’s already defeated army into direct confrontation with NATO.

Thomas Dupix Assisted in reporting from Vilnius.

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