US, Russia exchange warnings over Lithuania blockade

TEHRAN, Jun. 22 (MNA) – After Washington warned Russia that its support for Lithuania is 'ironclad' and any attack 'would be an attack on ALL NATO members', the Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov warned against dangerous rhetoric.

The US warnsed Russia that its support for Lithuania is 'ironclad' and any attack 'would be an attack on ALL NATO members' after Moscow threatened 'serious repercussions' for Kaliningrad blockade, Daily Mail reported.

The US State Department said Washington would defend NATO member Lithuania if Russia decided to launch an assault on the country.

'We stand by our NATO allies and we stand by Lithuania,' US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Wednesday.

'Specifically our commitment to NATO's Article Five - the premise that an attack on one would constitute an attack on all - that commitment on the part of the United States is ironclad,' he said. 

Russia has vowed to retaliate against Lithuania with measures that 'will have a serious negative impact on the Lithuanian population' after the country blocked coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad. 

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov hit back and warned the West to stop talking about triggering NATO's Article 5 mutual defence clause in a standoff between Lithuania and Russia.

'I would like to warn Europeans against dangerous rhetorical games on the topic of conflict,' the Interfax news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying on Wednesday, according to Daily Mail.

The Kremlin meanwhile said today that the EU sanctions that led Lithuania to block the transit of some goods to Kaliningrad were 'absolutely unacceptable', and that Moscow was working on retaliatory measures.

Lithuania has shut the route to steel and other ferrous metals, which it says it is required to do under EU sanctions that took effect on Saturday, imposed in response to Russia's decision to send its armed forces into Ukraine.

Kaliningrad is connected to the rest of Russia by a rail link through Lithuania, a member of the EU and NATO.

'We are convinced that the illegal sanctions adopted by the European Union are absolutely unacceptable in this situation,' Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a call with reporters, adding that countermeasures were being prepared.

Earlier on Wednesday, foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Russia's retaliation would not be exclusively diplomatic but also practical. She also did not elaborate.

Meanwhile, Russia's Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said on Tuesday: 'Russia will certainly respond to such hostile actions. Relevant measures are being worked out in the interdepartmental format and will be taken in the near future.'

'Their consequences will have a serious negative impact on the population of Lithuania,' Patrushev, a former KGB spy, added.

Asked about Russia's statements, Price said, 'We aren't going to speculate on Russian saber-rattling or Russian bluster and don't even want to give it additional airtime.'

Price added that the US welcomed the 'unprecedented economic measures' taken by Lithuania and other nations against Russia over the war in Ukraine. 

It comes as retired Russian general Evgeny Buzhinsky urged Putin to send nuclear weapons to Kaliningrad. 

The President's spokesman also weighed in, warning Moscow will never trust the West again following the move. 

Lt-Gen Evgeny Buzhinsky told Russian state TV that the West is playing with fire after deliveries of coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology were stopped from entering the Russian territory via NATO state Lithuania.

Buzhinsky said Lithuania's decision to ban the delivery of sanctioned goods to Kaliningrad, a Russian outpost on the Baltic Sea surrounded by EU territory, was a 'threat' to Russia's national security.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov meanwhile warned that all trust has now evaporated between the West and Moscow.

The threats come after the Kremlin warned of 'very tough actions' against Lithuania if it did not reverse its 'openly hostile move'.

Patrushev, one of Putin's top allies, arrived in Kaliningrad on Tuesday to discuss national security amid the row with NATO member Lithuania.

The Daily Mail report further quoted RIA Novosti as saying the trip, which included a discussion about transport, was planned before Vilnius banned the transit of goods sanctioned by the European Union through Lithuanian territory to and from the exclave, citing EU sanction rules.

Russia's foreign ministry on Tuesday also summoned the European Union ambassador to Moscow, Markus Ederer, over the 'anti-Russian restrictions' on the transit of sanctioned goods to Kaliningrad.

Russia's foreign ministry on Tuesday also summoned the European Union ambassador to Moscow, Markus Ederer, over the 'anti-Russian restrictions' on the transit of sanctioned goods to Kaliningrad.

The Lithuanian government stressed in a written statement Tuesday that 'the transit of passengers and non-sanctioned goods to and from the Kaliningrad region through Lithuania continues uninterrupted,' and that the ban on transit of sanctioned goods was merely part the fourth package of EU sanctions against Russia.

Top Lithuanian officials decried Russia's reaction to the measure as an attempt by the Kremlin to wind up a propaganda campaign trying to create an image of a 'blockade' mainly for internal consumption.

Meanwhile, Buzhinsky said 'Russia won't stop' defending its territory, 'otherwise they'll deprive us of Kaliningrad'.

He also threatened Britain will 'physically cease to exist' if the new standoff in Lithuania triggers a nuclear Third World War.

The Lithuanian chargé d'affaires in Moscow was told that unless cargo transit was resumed to Kaliningrad in the near future, Russia reserves the right to act to protect its national interests.

Loyalist senator Andrey Klimov warned it was 'direct aggression against Russia, literally forcing us to immediately resort to proper self-defence'.

Any direct Russian attack on alliance member state Lithuania would be seen as an act of war against NATO and could spark a world war. 

Buzhinsky, speaking on the state-owned Russian television channel Russia 1, said the situation is 'deeply serious', and claimed the West had ulterior motives.

The West intended to 'block Kaliningrad economically, completely, until our people howl from destitution', Buzinsky added. 

KI/PR

News Code 188295

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