July 13 (UPI) — The European Union clarified on Wednesday that goods included in sanctions against Russia can be transported across the bloc by rail.
The European Commission issued new legal guidelines clarifying that while “the transit of sanctioned goods by road with Russian operators is not permitted”, under the sanctions issued in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, “no similar prohibition exists for the rail transport”.
Guidance comes after Lithuania applied the penalties to restrict the transit of goods such as coal, iron and steel to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, located between the Baltic Sea and EU members Lithuania and Poland.
Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the Russian Security Council, warned of the “serious consequences” of the restrictions.
“The aim of today’s text is to clarify the applicable rules and to recall that member states are obliged to prevent all possible forms of circumvention of EU restrictive measures,” the bloc’s legislative arm said. in A declaration. “With this in mind, the Commission stresses the importance of monitoring bilateral trade flows between Russia and Kaliningrad Oblast in order to ensure that sanctioned goods cannot enter the customs territory of the EU.”
The committee noted on Wednesday that EU member states must ensure that transit volumes remain within the historical averages of the last three years, reflecting “actual demand for essential goods at destination” in order to avoid “flows or unusual business patterns” that could lead to sanctions evasion.
According to this directive, “the transit of sanctioned military and dual-use goods and technology is completely prohibited in any event, regardless of the mode of transport,” the commission added.
On Wednesday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States welcomed the EU’s announcement clarifying the sanctions, while saying that “there has never been a so-called ‘blockade’ of Kaliningrad”.
“Through a variety of routes, passengers continue to move between mainland Russia and Kaliningrad, as do all humanitarian shipments and most other cargo,” Price said. “Nor should we forget why the sanctions were put in place, in response to Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war in Ukraine.”
The commission also reiterated that the sanctions are “designed to increase economic pressure on Russia and undermine its ability to wage war against Ukraine.”
“The EU stands in solidarity with Ukraine and will continue to support Ukraine and its people, as well as its international partners, including through additional political, financial and humanitarian support,” he said.