Moscow is angry over the ban on the railway in Lithuania for the Russian region From Reuters

6/6

© Reuters. A man stands in front of a damaged apartment building on Panfilova Street after the recent shelling during the Ukrainian-Russian conflict in Donetsk, Ukraine, June 20, 2022. REUTERS / Alexander Ermochenko

2/6

By Natalia Zinets

Kyiv (Reuters) – Russia warned Lithuania on Tuesday that it would face “serious negative impact” measures to block some rail ships to Moscow’s Baltic enclave in Kaliningrad in its latest dispute over Western sanctions against the country over the war in Ukraine.

Russian forces and separatists in eastern Ukraine have made further progress by pushing the city of Lisichansk, the main bastion of Ukrainian forces in an area that is part of the Donbass region that Moscow claims separatists.

Ukraine continues to beg the West to send more artillery. Defense Minister Alexei Reznikov announced on Tuesday the arrival of powerful German self-propelled howitzers.

In response to Western sanctions, Russia has begun pumping reduced amounts of gas to Europe through Ukraine. European Union countries from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Adriatic Sea in the south have outlined measures to tackle the supply crisis after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February put energy at the center of an economic battle between Moscow and the West.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the reduced flows were an economic attack on Germany that “cannot be allowed to succeed”.

Diplomatic attention shifted to Kaliningrad, a Russian city located between Poland and Lithuania with nearly a million inhabitants. It is connected to the rest of Russia by rail via Lithuania, which is a member of the EU and NATO.

Lithuania has closed the route for steel and other ferrous metals, which it says is required by EU sanctions, which took effect on Saturday. Lithuania has also blocked the transportation of food, threatening the region’s food security, the TASS news agency reported, citing a foreign ministry spokesman.

Lithuanians living just across the border said they believed in NATO as a deterrent to any potential Russian attacks.

“Nothing bad will happen … because Lithuania is in NATO and in the European Union,” said Vitaly Sidiskis, a 59-year-old insurer, while acknowledging that it is difficult to predict what Russia can do.

Meanwhile, another Baltic country, Estonia, summoned the Russian ambassador on Tuesday to protest a violation of its national airspace by a Russian helicopter on June 18th. There was no immediate comment from Russia.

‘CONSEQUENCES’

Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, visited Kaliningrad to chair a security meeting there. He said Lithuania’s actions show that Russia cannot trust the West, which it says has violated written agreements on Kaliningrad.

In response, “appropriate measures” are being developed, Patrushev was quoted as saying by the state news agency RIA, without specifying that “the consequences will have a serious negative impact on the Lithuanian population.”

Moscow summoned EU envoy Marcus Ederer to Russia’s foreign ministry on Tuesday. EU spokesman Peter Stano said Ederer had asked the Russians at the meeting “to refrain from escalating steps and rhetoric”.

The confrontation is creating a new source of confrontation in the Baltic Sea, a region already ready for a major security overhaul that will limit Russia’s naval power as Sweden and Finland apply to join NATO and place almost the entire coast in Alliance territory.

The EU has tried to absolve Lithuania of responsibility, saying the policy is a collective action by the bloc.

With a symbolic decision, Ukraine must become an official candidate for membership in the European Union on Thursday, EU diplomats said.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland became the last international dignitary to visit Ukraine, reaffirming Washington’s commitment Tuesday to identifying, arresting and prosecuting those involved in war crimes during Russia’s invasion.

HEAVY FIGHT

In some of the bloodiest battles seen in Europe since World War II, Russia has made slow progress in the Donbass since April in a conflict that has cost thousands of soldiers on both sides.

Some of the fighting covers the Seversky Donets River, which winds through the Donbass, with Russian forces mainly on the east bank and Ukrainian forces mainly on the west.

However, Ukrainian troops – and about 500 civilians – are reportedly still being held at a chemical plant in the East Bank city of Severodonetsk, despite weeks of heavy bombing.

Luhansk Provincial Governor Sergei Gaidai confirmed that Toshkivka, a village on the west coast in the south, is now controlled by Russian forces. This could boost Moscow’s hopes of cutting off Lisichansk from Ukrainian territory.

Rodion Miroshnik, Russia’s ambassador to the pro-Moscow Luhansk People’s Republic, said forces were “moving south from Lisichansk” and clashes erupted in a number of cities.

Separately, at least 15 civilians were killed in the Ukrainian Kharkiv region by Russian shelling, the district governor said in an online publication.

Russia’s defense ministry says its missiles hit an airport near the port of Odessa in response to a Ukrainian attack on gas extraction platforms in the Black Sea.

Reuters could not independently verify any reports.

(This story has been revised to correct a typo in paragraph 7.)

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.