Statement on the European Commission’s guidance on the transit via EU territory of Russian goods
Lithuania condemns Russia’s war against Ukraine and continues to advocate for the expansion of a policy of sanctions against Russia. The European Union and other like-minded countries must continue to step up their severe sanctions against Russia until the country stops its aggression against Ukraine and withdraws its troops from occupied territories.
At the same time, Lithuania consistently and effectively implements restrictive measures against Russia agreed unanimously upon by all EU member states, in constant consultation with the European Commission.
In order to ensure effective enforcement of sanctions, the Commission is working on guidance to ensure a unified interpretation of the provisions at the EU level. So far, Lithuania has followed the Commission’s guidance on the transit of sanctioned Russian goods, which it received in April 2022 and which it believes to be the most acceptable.
On 13 July 2022, the Commission announced its updated guidance with respect to the application of the restrictions.
We welcome the Commission’s total ban on the transit through the EU territory of goods that serve a military purpose, dual-use goods and technology. Lithuania also positively evaluates the member states' obligation to check whether rail transit volumes remain within the historical averages of the last 3 years, in particular reflecting the real demand for essential goods at the destination, as well as the necessity to strengthen the transit controls.
We have always said that there should be no special exceptions or individual treatment of different territories of the EU member states. We, therefore, positively evaluate the fact that the updated guidance, which is to be followed by all EU Member States, does not create such a precedent.
As a member of the transatlantic community and a trusted ally, Lithuania cannot ignore the strategic positions and assessments of Lithuania’s foreign and security policy partners and the EC. We are well aware that one of the Kremlin's goals is to destroy our transatlantic unity, to seek to create mistrust and to sow discord among the allies. Thus, Lithuania will remain loyal to the transatlantic partnership and will continue adhering to a unified and coordinated EU sanctions policy.
Lithuania also understands that the updated guidance could give the false impression that the transatlantic community is mitigating its position and sanctions policy towards Russia. Lithuania continues to advocate for the stricter and broadest possible modalities of the application of the EU sanctions.
The EC’s updated guidance makes it clear that member states have a legal obligation to ensure that the EU sanctions are not circumvented. Therefore, Lithuania will effectively ensure the application of sanctions by closely monitoring, principally and effectively verifying whether Russia is attempting to abuse its transit possibilities. If such cases are identified or in the interest of national security, Lithuania reserves the right to unilaterally prevent such attempts.
The document is now being carefully examined by state authorities, as nationwide coordinated decisions and actions will be required in order to ensure a proper and uniform application of sanctions.