2021.12.09 13:35

Lithuanian FM ready to step down over Belaruskali sanctions debacle

BNS, LRT.lt2021.12.09 13:35

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said he was ready to resign amid the scandal of Belaruskali products being transported via Lithuania despite the US sanctions against Belarus' fertiliser manufacturer.

"I told the prime minister today, in fact, last night, that I was ready to step down, and I am waiting for the prime minister's decision," Landsbergis, chairman of the ruling conservative Homeland Union, told reporters on Thursday.

"I understand the reputational damage to Lithuania," he added.

Transport and Communications Minister Marius Skuodis also said he was ready to step down, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said on Thursday. She will make a decision on the two ministers' resignation requests next week.

The US sanctions on Belaruskali, which exports its products via Lithuania’s Port of Klaipėda, were announced in August and came into force on December 8.

Lithuanian Railways (LTG) said the Belarusian fertiliser shipments continue because Belaruskali made advance payments in November that are sufficient to cover the cost of rail services in December and possibly the beginning of January.

The state railway company said it has informed the transport ministry and the foreign ministry about these advance payments.

But according to Landsbergis, the foreign ministry had information only on Belaruskali's advance payment made in September to cover services in October. It was not informed about "the subsequent payments that took place", he added.

LTG Cargo, Lithuanian Railways’ freight transportation subsidiary, used to handle over 10 million tons of Belaruskali shipments, worth around 60 million euros, every year.

A week ago, the US expanded its sanctions to include the Belarus Potash Company (BPC), Belaruskali's exporting arm, giving American companies until April 1 to wind down contracts with the firm.

Read more: Vilnius taken unawares by Belaruskali's agreement with Lithuanian Railways

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