Russia Sanctions

Sanctions-busting efforts from shippers moving goods into Belarus and Russia increased five-fold in the three months to June, according to Lithuania’s state-owned rail operator, LTG.

Speaking to Lithuanian media outlet LRT, LTG CEO Cargo Eglė Šimė said 14 trains on their way into the Baltic state in March were turned back for being in breach of western sanctions, but this number massively increased last month, to 74.

And Gediminas Šečkus, chief resilience officer for LTG, suggested the increase may be an attempt to test the effectiveness of western sanctions.

Last month, LRT reported that the Baltic states had become a gateway for those looking to get their goods past the trade blocks placed on them in the wake of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Noting the flow of goods through Lithuania alone, the report claimed “at least” €130m worth of goods had passed through on their way to Russia.

The news of increasing sanctions-busting comes in the midst of increasing concern from Lithuania over the role of the EU in bringing the Russian government to account for the war.

Foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis slammed the EU for its new “watered down” sanctions package, coming amidst increasing “hybrid activities” by Russia.

“I don’t think we’re sending the right message. We’re discussing the 14th sanctions package, which unfortunately has become rather watered down,” said Mr Landsbergis.

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