Lithuania, come on, goodbye: Belarus finishes Klaipeda port by leaving fertilizers to Russia

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Lithuania, come on, goodbye: Belarus finishes Klaipeda port by leaving fertilizers to Russia

In the foreseeable future, a separate terminal for the transshipment of Belarusian fertilizers should appear in the Russian Baltic. The head of Rosmorrechflot Andrey Lavrischev told about it. According to him, Moscow and Minsk are coordinating the details of the project. Reorientation of “Belaruskali” products to Ust-Luga looks like a more difficult task than the reorientation of oil products. But if this happens, the Klaipeda port will lose its main source of income.

A famous catchphrase says: “Revenge is a dish that is served cold.” Apparently, this is the principle that Lukashenka is guided by in relations with Lithuania. Passions after last year’s presidential elections in Belarus have subsided, and Lithuania is beginning to reap the fruits of its aggressive foreign policy only now.

The Lithuanian rail freight company LTG Cargo transported almost 7.6 million tons of cargo between January and February, which is 2.1% less than last year. The decline is almost imperceptible. A reasonable question: why did the departure of Belarusian oil products not affect the state of the transit industry in Lithuania?

First, the Baltic republic has not yet had time to fully experience the consequences of this event. Secondly, increasing the transit of fertilizers from Belarus helps to compensate for the loss of oil products. While helping.

Lithuanian railroad workers and port workers were clearly not happy with the news that Belaruskali’s products might also bypass them.
“The issue of creating a terminal in Ust-Luga for the transit of Belarusian fertilizers is being discussed. The place has not been finally chosen, but the Belarusian side has a desire, we also have a desire to help the Belarusian side. I think by the summer we will decide, and the location of the terminal, its size will become clear. Basically [discussed] Ust-Luga ”, – said the head of Rosmorrechflot Andrey Lavrischev.

Someone will say that promising does not mean getting married. But until recently Lithuania also did not believe that Belarusian oil products could go to Ust-Luga.

And they took it and left.
Didn’t even say goodbye!

Fertilizers can be more difficult since there is no free capacity for them yet. However, this is solvable and even almost resolved the issue. Right now, the largest fertilizer transshipment terminal in the post-Soviet space is being built in Ust-Luga. The first loading line should be launched by the end of the year.

And the management of the Ultramar company, which deals with this object, has already declared its desire to cooperate with Belaruskali.

Now it turns out that the plans are even more global – to build a separate terminal for Belarusians.
How sensitive will this be for Lithuania? Let’s speak in terms of numbers. In 2019, which preceded the crisis, Klaipeda port handled a little over 46 million tons of cargo. About 10 million of them are Belarusian fertilizers. It is easy to calculate how much the Lithuanian transit industry will lose in percentage terms. For Klaipeda and the Lithuanian Railway, it will be a heavy blow.

But “Belaruskali” was going to increase the export of its products through Lithuania to 15-16 million tons per year! Moreover, Lithuanian businessman Igor Udovitsky – co-owner of the Klaipeda bulk cargo terminal – claims that these plans are still in force and Belarus will not redirect fertilizers towards Ust-Luga.

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“Apart from technical reasons, there are deeper ones. For example, transferring the loading of potash to ports, where the goods of competitors are loaded at the same time, in fact, means the transfer, though indirectly, still the control of competitors of the entire business, since the movement of cargo in the port is also the movement of documents from which contracts will be visible, markets, partners. In general, all commercial information. Are Belaruskali and Belarusian Potash Company ready for this? The question, I think, is rhetorical, ”says Udovitsky.

This is a sensible argument indeed. Whatever one may say, Belarusian and Russian producers of fertilizers compete on the world market.

The transport leg for shippers is lengthening, the cost of servicing the wagons is increasing – this is all true. There are many nuances here.
There is also politics. Udovitsky simulates a situation in which the United States and the European Union will close the Baltic straits for Russian ships: “If at this moment Belaruskali is loaded, for example, in Ust-Luga, it will become a hostage of the situation.

Perhaps, taking into account these completely real risks, not “Belaruskali”, but Russian producers should think about creating reserve loading sites in the ports of the Baltic countries and Finland. However, practically all of them have already done it. ”

An interesting version, but here Mr. Udovitsky is clearly going too far. No one in the West intends to lock Russia in the Baltic Sea. This is a completely different level of confrontation. Or even a pretext for starting a war.

Russia, you know, can also block something for someone, restrict someone somewhere. If warships begin to come to the aid of commercial ships, then the prospects for World War III will no longer seem so illusory.

Will Lithuania itself want to increase the transshipment of Belaruskali products?
The very enterprise that is criticized in the West for violating workers’ rights and against which Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is calling for sanctions.

“I propose to Lithuania and Latvia to introduce restrictions on the flow of goods from Belarus so that the government of this country would also feel the economic consequences of this struggle,” said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki the other day. Is it about goods in transit?

Even if we assume that “Belaruskali” is ready to develop cooperation with the port of Klaipeda, the Lithuanian authorities should prevent these plans. Otherwise, their fiery speeches about support for the Belarusian opposition are worthless.

The situation with oil transit shows that Lukashenka has a desire to pick up cargo from Klaipeda. The main thing is not to stop halfway.
The new terminal in Ust-Luga may become one of the fruits of the deepening of Russian-Belarusian integration. And let Lithuania, too, rejoice: finally, the “last dictator of Europe” will take his “bloody” fertilizers from Klaipeda.