The European Union's decision to allow Russia to continue moving sanctioned goods to the Kaliningrad exclave comes as an unfortunate sign that the EU is willing to make sanctions exceptions, Riigikogu Foreign Affairs Committee head Marko Mihkelson (Reform) said on Wednesday.
"Russia came up with a very strong verbal reaction to the full implementation of the sanctions package – aimed primarily at Lithuania but also Europe as a whole. Likely following pressure from major European capitals, possibly Berlin, the solution of allowing rail transport from Russia through Lithuania to Kaliningrad has been found.
What this really means is that the European Union has sent a signal that it is willing to make exceptions in Russia sanctions. I find it to be an extremely unfortunate signal," Mihkelson said.
The politician said that the decision could have followed multiple threats by Russia. The latter has threatened to cut gas supplies and power links.
"But let us consider for a moment the reason for sanctions. The European Commission's decision fails to even mention it – there is a war going on. Russia is waging a war of destruction against Ukraine and its people. To try to soften or somehow explain sanctions in this situation – it sends Russia the signal that exceptions are possible if they're loud enough," Mihkelson suggested.
The Reform Party MP said that Estonia stands with Lithuania and that the debate will likely continue during the seventh sanctions package deliberations.
"One of the starting points should be the realization that Russia will use every opportunity to cause European Union partners to fall out among themselves and create such fissures. It is definitely in Lithuania's interests, as well as ours, that we solve these matters in a way that retains European unity."
Sanctions need to be consistent, Mihkelson remarked. "Once we've said or decided something, we need to stick to it, and I believe these deliberations will continue following this case, also on the level of ministers."
Editor: Marcus Turovski