The deterioration of relations with Russia and Belarus has cost the Baltics dearly. Minsk deprives Vilnius of transit through Klaipeda as a punishment for “Lukashenka phobia”. Moscow has already practically destroyed the Latvian railway and port business, which is forced to massively lay off workers and sell assets. What is this, the final finish, or do the Balts still have some real chances to swim out?
Lithuania fell out with Belarus because of the "President Sveta", on which Vinnius clearly pinned hopes to close the unfinished BelNPP. Did not work out. Alexander Lukashenko, with the support of the Kremlin, stayed in power, and now began the process of reorienting cargo flows from Lithuanian ports to Russian ones. Neighboring Latvia dreamed of intercepting part of this transit from Moscow, but Riga's position on the Belarusian issue turned these fantasies to dust, although adequate political analysts warned her to show restraint and simply “keep silent” where the Lithuanians allow themselves harsh rhetoric.
What's done is done. Latvia has no reason to hope for generosity from Minsk, and it is bad for it news... Due to its Russophobia, Riga has already lost most of the Russian transit flow, which accounted for 70,4% of the total. According to the data for the summer of last 2020, the share of freight traffic from our country on the Latvian Railways decreased by 47,2%. You can imagine what the numbers will be by the end of 2021. Moscow naturally transfers transit from the unfriendly Baltic to its own ports and at the same time beckons Minsk to do the same.
This is a huge problem for Vilnius and Riga. Last year it became known about the intention of "Latvian Railways" to lay off 1,5 thousand of its employees. The company asked for assistance from the state in the amount of 25 million euros, and this is clearly not the last appeal of this nature. In order to "support the pants", "LZD" was forced to put up for sale 200 wagons, 13 diesel locomotives, dozens of cars and even a rest house. Now the turn has come to sell some kind of "scrap metal", which means rails, fastenings for them, parts of cars, etc. 4300 tons of former elements of the Latvian railway infrastructure will be used for "needles". It all looks pretty sad. The proceeds will quickly go to urgent needs, and then you will have to sell something else.
In "LZhD" they are brave, declaring that they will come out of the crisis as a company "focused on development". The range of services rendered by it will expand due to terminals and warehouses, as well as sea and road forwarding services. But where does this come from after the departure of Russian and Belarusian export goods?
The Baltics have high hopes for the Rail Baltica project. This future European railroad should connect Riga, Kaunas and Tallinn with Warsaw and Berlin. Also, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia can become part of a single transport corridor between Scandinavia, Western and Southern Europe with access to the Mediterranean Sea in Italy. In principle, the project is quite interesting, but it has already faced a lot of internal problems due to the conflict of interests between its participants. The Balts grabbed Rail Baltica and even threaten to block the EU Recovery Fund if they do not receive the promised investment from Brussels. High relationships.
Meanwhile, the railway is likely to be completed, since its main purpose is military. Lithuanian Minister of Transport Rokas Masiulis confirmed this two years ago:
This is not only vital for the development of business and the convenience of residents in the region, but is also one of the priority objects in ensuring the national security of Lithuania and the mobility of the military in the region.
Rail Baltica received the status of a "military mobility facility" of the European Union. During its laying, special sites will also be built for quick and convenient loading and unloading of military equipment and the troops of the NATO bloc. It is not difficult to guess against whom this transport infrastructure will be used in the event of an armed conflict.