Russia should find way to pay for Kaliningrad transit by itself - Lithuanian FM
VILNIUS. Aug 9 (Interfax/BNS) - Russia should find a way to pay Lithuania for transit to the Kaliningrad region; this is a responsibility of Moscow, not Vilnius, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Lithuanian National Radio and Television in response to a question about Lithuanian banks wondering whether they might breach international sanctions by such transactions.
"Lithuania is not responsible for helping the Russian Federation pay for the transit. It's their responsibility. Russia should find a way to make the payments," Landsbergis said.
Russia sometimes paid cash when banks refused to carry out the transactions, the minister said, adding he had doubts that this payment method was possible in the case of Kaliningrad transit.
"I do not know, I am not sure that cash payments for transit are possible. I am just saying that a creative approach sometimes helps find a way. [...] I would give no advice to the Russian Federation. It's their responsibility," he said.
Russian Charge d'Affaires ad interim Sergei Ryabokon has presented the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry with a note regarding the expected termination of payments for Kaliningrad transit.
Ryabokon said on the Rossiya 24 television channel (VGTRK) that operators using Lithuanian Railways services in Russia need to pay for cargo transportation yet the only bank designated by Vilnius to carry out the transactions, Siauliu bankas, will stop doing business with Russia in September.
This is a new blow dealt to the transit to the Kaliningrad region through Lithuania, "although it comes from another angle," the diplomat said.
Siauliu bankas said it was clarifying the situation with the respective agencies.
The Lithuanian Financial Crime Investigation Service has allowed for a sanctions waiver with regard to payments for Kaliningrad transit but says that every case will be addressed individually.
Russia resumed the transit of goods sanctioned by the EU to the Kaliningrad region in July, approximately one month after Lithuania restricted the transit with the reference to the European Commission's guidelines.
Russia described the restrictions as the blocking of the Kaliningrad region and threatened with countermeasures. The European Commission issued new guidelines, which lifted a bigger part of the restrictions on railroad transit. Meanwhile, the transit of sanctioned goods by truck remains forbidden.