Russian sea-link to end ‘European blockade’

New route is set to help Russia avoid transit through Lithuania.

On 10 September 2006, President Vladimir Putin inaugurated a new sea link connecting the enclave Kaliningrad to the Russian mainland. This strategic military outpost on the Baltic Sea has been a source of dispute between Lithuania and Russia for years, with Russia accusing Lithuania of blocking traffic through the country. Kaliningrad is separated by Lithuania from the Russian mainland and is surrounded by European borders.

Tensions escalated recently when Russia’s foreign ministry hit out angrily after Lithuania said that it might suspend the rail link with Kaliningrad for repairs. According to some Lithuanian officials, this may be retaliation for Russia’s closure for repairs of a pipeline supplying oil to Lithuania.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov said “such threats could lead to the most serious consequences for relations between our two countries”.

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