The Kaliningrad Blockade Shows NATO’s Increasing Recklessness

12 JULY 2022

The Kaliningrad Blockade Shows NATO’s Increasing Recklessness

Why is it that Lithuania appears to be deliberately trying to provoke a war with Russia? The answer lies in NATO’s increasing recklessness.

Last week, Lithuania announced it would ban goods subject to EU sanctions from passing through its territory to Kaliningrad. This means that – read this slowly – half of all goods coming into the territory will be blocked from entry. It is an unprecedented move that cuts off 400.000 people from the supplies of various goods, threatening their existence. The Kremlin has called the decision ‘in violation of everything there is’ and suggested that retaliatory measures would follow. Analysts see the move as a provocation that might drag Russia into a war with NATO. We can only guess about the consequences all of this would have for Lithuania, but one can be sure that they would be dire. Why is it that Lithuania appears to be deliberately trying to provoke a war with Russia? The answer lies in NATO’s increasing recklessness.

Let me be clear: the effects of Lithuania’s blockade of Kaliningrad are not a minor nuisance, as European media want you to believe. The blockade does not concern ‘just a few non-essential goods.’ According to Kaliningrad Governor Anton Alikhanov, the ban will affect between 40-50 percent of all imports to the exclave. The Governor emphasized that these goods are not intended for trade in Europe (which makes the ban even more absurd), but for supplying the region. The list includes metals, construction materials, and advanced technology. These are all items every society needs, obviously, and this is just the beginning. In the coming weeks, the list will be extended to cover coal, alcoholic drinks, fertilisers, timber and glass containers. The enclave will be slowly strangled by the EU. No wonder that its inhabitants are panicking, and Moscow is enraged.

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it had summoned the Lithuanian Ambassador in Moscow to protest the ‘provocative’ and ‘openly hostile’ measures, that violate the 2002 treaty between Russia and Lithuania. ‘If in the near future cargo transit between the Kaliningrad region and the rest of the territory of the Russian Federation through Lithuania is not restored in full, then Russia reserves the right to take actions to protect its national interests,’ the ministry said. This would include retaliatory measures. President Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, noted that ‘the situation is really very serious and requires a very deep analysis before preparing any measures or any decisions. This thorough analysis will be carried out over the next few days.’ At least one party is still thinking clearly.

The other party, in any case, is not. It certainly looks as if Lithuania is trying hard to provoke a war with Russia. Let me reiterate that this issue does not concern trade into the European Union, it concerns trade within Russia that has to cross European territory. There is no reason to obstruct that other than the desire to provoke a conflict. Unfortunately, we are used to warmongering and provocations by Lithuania, that previously provoked a conflict with China over the Taiwan issue (which did not end well for the small Baltic state). However, the bigger question is why NATO does not step in to put Lithuania in its place. The country threatens the safety of the entire alliance, that might be dragged into a full-scale war with Russia.

The answer is that even NATO does not think about the consequences of its actions anymore (read my previous article on NATO enlargement for more background). It feels the need to continue expanding and deploying various military systems close to Russia’s borders, and actively arms Ukraine in an attempt to weaken Russia. All of this very clearly reveals a pattern of increasing recklessness. NATO has started to believe in the fantasy that it has reached global military dominance, and that it does not need to take any other state’s security interests into account. I probably don’t have to tell you how extremely dangerous this sentiment is, not only in Eastern Europe but in all regions of the world. Because, one day, a humiliated state somewhere in the world will lose its temper. And by then, it might be too late for apologies.

By Maria Heemskerk

Dutch political commentator who blogs at