“Belarusian schemes” to circumvent sanctions on Lithuanian railways
Investigative journalists in Lithuania and Belarus claim to have exposed a series of circumvention of Belarus’ sanctions on transporting fertilizer by rail. Lithuanian Minister of Transport Marius Skuodis commented that the violation of the sanctions rules is the product of “Belarusian machinations, in which Lithuanian companies are also involved.” It is reported by Railway Supply magazine with reference to RailFreight.
Previously, fertilizers accounted for the majority of rail freight traffic between Lithuania and Belarus. In fact, they provided a significant portion of LTG Cargo’s annual revenue.
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LTG decided to stop the transit of fertilizers in 2021 when the EU imposed sanctions on the Belarusian economy due to lack of transparency and corruption fears. Since then, Lithuania has introduced an individual assessment regime for requests related to the transportation of fertilizers by Belarusian companies. In practice, each transport request is evaluated separately to determine if it is valid under the sanction rules.
Following EU sanctions on Russia and Belarus related to the invasion of Ukraine, new companies have been added to this sanctions list. However, some were still excluded. According to the investigative report, this is a loophole that the Belarusian regime is using to “disguise” the fertilizer company and import it to Lithuania by rail using a different shipper name.
The report mentions the example of the Belarusian company Grodno Azot, which allegedly transported carbamide fertilizers on Lithuanian railways since 2021, when the company came under sanctions. Grodno Azot ships its cargoes under the names of other fertilizer producers from Belarus, which are not subject to any sanctions rules.
Transport Minister Marius Skujodis, speaking to the Lithuanian media, spoke about a number of exposed Belarusian schemes trying to circumvent sanctions. He also said he expects more such schemes in the future. According to him, “the Belarussian KGB is working day and night to generate revenue by circumventing sanctions .”
It is interesting to note that a few days ago, Lithuania closed one of the railway border crossings with Belarus until further notice due to ongoing smuggling attempts. The last attempt, which was prevented by the Lithuanian customs, concerned the transport of contraband cigarettes.
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