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Lithuania’s Failed Blockade Of Kaliningrad Is A Defeat For The US
Nevertheless, no one should fall under the false assumption that this development implies a trans-Atlantic rift between the EU and the US since nothing of the sort is unfolding. Rather, what happened was that the EU unexpectedly pushed back against the US after the latter overstepped by provoking a major crisis between Russia and the bloc through its exploitation of Lithuania to that end.
The European Commission’s clarification that its anti-Russian sanctions shouldn’t be interpreted by Lithuania as a greenlight for blockading Kaliningrad strongly suggests that the bloc is uncomfortable with the destabilizing influence that the US is suspected of exerting over that Baltic country. Vilnius’ unilateral interpretation of these prior restrictions as the pretext for cutting off road and rail connections with that Russian exclave was more of a Washington-orchestrated political provocation aimed at manipulating the minds of Westerners than an attempt to worsen the living standards of that region’s people as the author explained at the time here. Its decision to go along with Brussels in this respect is therefore a defeat for that declining unipolar hegemon, and an unexpected one at that.
The US successfully reasserted its hegemony over the EU on an anti-Russian pretext upon the commencement of Moscow’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine, even getting its European vassals to counterproductively sanction their top supplier of raw resources and thus triggering an absolutely avoidable economic crisis that brought the euro to parity with the dollar for the first time in two decades. If some European companies end up going out of business in the coming future, then their American and British competitors would benefit. All told, the US has almost total control over the EU at the moment, but it finally overstepped by getting Lithuania to blockade Kaliningrad and thus provoke a major crisis between Russia and the bloc.
That was too much for the “Big Three” (France, Germany, and Italy), which swiftly intervened through European institutions to reassert their own much more direct hegemony over that Baltic country by clarifying that its sanctions can’t be exploited to cut off the transit of civilian products to the Russian exclave by rail. Even though Lithuania is an American vassal state, it’s much more a European one when push comes to shove like it recently did. Vilnius couldn’t defy the European Commission, hence why it complied with its policy clarification and thus went against Washington’s will. The only reason that this happened is because the “Big Three” considered it unacceptable to provoke Russia in such a brazen way, which in turn speaks to their comparatively more pragmatic stance towards the Ukrainian Conflict.
Nevertheless, no one should fall under the false assumption that this development implies a trans-Atlantic rift between the EU and the US since nothing of the sort is unfolding. Rather, what happened was that the EU unexpectedly pushed back against the US after the latter overstepped by provoking a major crisis between Russia and the bloc through its exploitation of Lithuania to that end. This shows that America’s largest European vassals will accept pretty much anything that their overlord demands of them except if it risks sparking a direct conflict with Russia in the worst-case scenario like some feared that Lithuania’s US-orchestrated blockade of Kaliningrad threatened to do. In such instances, the “Big Three” proved that they have the political will to decisively intervene against Washington’s wishes.
There are five takeaways from this incident. First, the US will exploit its smallest and most Russophobic EU vassals in order to provoke a crisis between Russia and the bloc. Second, if the crisis is considered by policymakers in the “Big Three” to risk a direct conflict with Russia in the worst-case scenario, then they’ll decisively intervene to avert it. Third, this intervention takes the form of reasserting their own hegemony over whichever US vassal was exploited to provoke the crisis. Fourth, the US isn’t expected to feud with the EU whenever this happens since doing so risks splitting the bloc’s unity and thus weakening the larger platform that it’s exploited to “contain” Russia. And finally, these unexpected differences between the EU and US shouldn’t be interpreted as implying a rift between them.