Image: Latvian Railways

Latvia terminates rail contract with Belarus for military goods

Latvia has suspended rail transport of military cargo from Belarus to its seaports. This was reported by the Lithuanian news website Delfi. The rail contract with Belarus does no longer comply with the legal norms of the EU and NATO of which Latvia is a member, the Ministry of Transport noted.

The rail contract between Latvia and Belarus allowed for the direct rail transportation of military cargo from Belarus to third countries through Latvian ports. It was signed back in January 1994, when Latvia was not yet an EU member.

“Latvia joined the EU on 1 May 2004 and on 29 March 2004 became a member of NATO. In this regard, Latvia is bound by the legal norms of these international organizations, and the agreement with Belarus does not apply to these norms”, the ministry is cited. The contract was suspended per 10 May 2022, the ministry stated.

Drop of volumes in Baltic region

Neighbouring country Lithuania had already terminated certain rail contracts with Belarus. In February, LTG terminated its transit contract with Belarusian fertiliser producer Belaruskali, as this company had been subjected to US sanctions. Although the ban involves only fertilisers and oil products, it hit the rail freight market hard.

Latvia also fears an impact on the rail freight business. Already before the latest suspension, rail freight volumes were dropping dramatically, and the rail freight traffic that Latvia used to have with Belarus and Russia cannot be fully substituted. In April, Latvian Railway (LDz) said to be working on an action plan to deal with the situation. A focus on Central Asia was among the options. The action plan has not yet been revealed.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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