Russia today ended supplementary border checks on Lithuanian trucks imposed a month ago amid rising tensions over the European Union’s bid to forge closer trade relations with ex-Soviet republics.
The Russian Federal Customs Service said the move was in response to a reduction in the number of border violations by Lithuanian importers and transport firms since it tightened checks on September 11.
Lithuania, which ships about 30 percent of its exports to Russia, said the extra checks, which led to long delays and queues, were costing its traders and trucking firms €2 million euros (about US$2.7 million) a day.
The former Soviet Baltic republic, which joined the European Union in 2004, warned last week that it might retaliate by imposing a transport blockade on Kaliningrad, a wedge of Russian territory between Lithuania and Poland.
The EU has threatened to file a complaint against Russia at the World Trade Organization.
The easing of border inspections failed to defuse trade tensions as Moscow halted imports of Lithuanian dairy products on Monday, claiming they contain unacceptable levels of yeast and mold. Russian authorities also are stepping up the monitoring of meat and fish shipments from Lithuania.
Lithuania exported 370,000 metric tons of dairy produce to Russia in 2012, worth almost $195 million.
Lithuania has attracted Moscow’s wrath because it will host an EU summit in Vilnius in late November at which Ukraine is expected to sign a free trade and political association agreement with the 28-nation bloc.
The EU is also expected to take steps toward signing initial cooperation agreements with the ex-Soviet republics of Moldova and Georgia, which Moscow wants to join its own customs union.
Russia imposed extra border checks on Ukrainian goods in mid-August and banned imports of candies from four Ukrainian plants. On September 11 Moscow banned imports of Moldovan spirits and wine, citing quality concerns.