Russia summoned the European Union ambassador on Tuesday and sent the regime’s number 2 to Kaliningrad, two days after the entry into force of a sanction, decided by Lithuania, which isolates this Russian enclave in Europe. A reaction that may seem disproportionate, but which is explained by the importance of Kaliningrad in the eyes of Vladimir Putin.
He arrived in Kaliningrad on Tuesday 21 June. Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Russian Security Council, went to this Russian enclave to chair a meeting on “national security issues”, while Moscow has not been happy in recent days.
The Kremlin has not digested the decision taken by Lithuania on Saturday 18 June to block the transit by rail of some of the products sent by Moscow to Kaliningrad. Separated from the rest of Russia by Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus, this enclave is supplied mainly by a railway line that passes through Minsk (Belarus) and Vilnius (Lithuania).
Number 2 in the regime
Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, has been able to point out that his country “was only applying European sanctions against the export of certain Russian products”, but nothing has been done. Moscow first threatened Vilnius with “reprisals” – without specifying which – if the ban was not “immediately lifted”. The Kremlin then summoned the EU ambassador to Russia to officially complain.
Nikolai Patrushev’s trip to Kaliningrad is the latest act in this escalation of Russian-European tensions initiated by Moscow. It is almost as if Moscow sent Vladimir Putin himself to Kaliningrad,” says Jeff Hawn, a specialist in Russian security issues and an outside consultant for the New Lines Institute, an American geopolitical research center.