15 Aug 2022 14:17

Kaliningrad authorities see no risk to transit from Siauliu bankas' refusal to process payments in rubles

KALININGRAD. Aug 15 (Interfax) - The refusal of Lithuania's Siauliu bankas to process ruble-denominated transactions will not affect railroad transit to the Kaliningrad region from the rest of Russia, Dmitry Lyskov, press secretary for the Kaliningrad governor, told Interfax.

"All bills to be paid by Russia for cargo transit via Lithuania have always been denominated in euros. So, the fact that Siauliu bankas has stopped accepting payments in rubles will have no fallout on railroad transit," Lyskov said.

Lithuania's Siauliu bankas said earlier that, in view of new sanctions on Russia and Belarus, it would not process payments in Russian rubles regardless of the recipient country starting August 15 and would not process payments to or from Russia and Belarus in any currency starting September 1.

The bank's plan to fully stop processing the payments has caused new tensions in the Kaliningrad transit.

Earlier, Russian Charge d'Affaires ad interim Sergei Ryabokon described the decision as a new blow dealt to the transit to the Kaliningrad region through Lithuania, "although it comes from another angle." Vilnius has designated Siauliu bankas as the only bank authorized to process payments in favor of Lithuanian Railways for cargo transportation. Later, the Lithuanian Financial Crime Investigation Service allowed for a sanctions waiver with regard to payments for Kaliningrad transit but says that every case will be addressed individually.

The European Commission said, for its part, that the EU sanctions on Russia and Belarus do not prohibit banks from processing payments for rail services, and the Lithuanian authorities should relay this to banks.

Russian Foreign Ministry Ambassador-at-Large Alexei Isakov said then that Russia would seek a full sanctions waiver for all cargo transit between the Kaliningrad region and the rest of the country and the resumption of full-scale passenger rail services via Lithuania.

Russia resumed the transit of goods sanctioned by the EU to the Kaliningrad region in July, approximately one month after Lithuania restricted transit with 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.