Lithuania blocks Russian steel rail transit to Kaliningrad

Lithuania has enforced a ban on Russia-origin steel transiting across its territory by rail to the exclave of Kaliningrad, drawing the ire of Russia which has threatened to retaliate.

Lithuania’s foreign ministry issued a notice on Monday clarifying that it is merely enforcing EU sanctions on Russian steel that were published in March, and that transit of passengers and non-sanctioned cargo continues unhindered. This follows reports that authorities in Kaliningrad claimed Lithuania had blocked all transit from Russia.

The Kaliningrad Oblast’s main steel firm is coil painter/coater BSK Steel, which sources merchant hot-dip galvanized coil feedstock. Severstal is among the Russian steelmakers known to supply Kaliningrad, while Russian carmaker Avtotor is based there. Earlier this year, Kaliningrad region governor Anton Alikhanov said that Avtotor has preliminary agreements on the assembly of cars at its facilities with manufacturers from countries that have not imposed sanctions against Russia (see Kallanish passim).

As an alternative to rail transport, steel could be shipped to Kaliningrad from Russia’s Baltic Sea ports at St Petersburg or Ust-Luga.

Adam Smith Poland