Allies of Vladimir Putin were today baring their teeth at ex-Soviet states Lithuania and Kazakhstan with direct threats of military action.
This came amid claims Putin could declare martial law and mobilisation in five Russian regions bordering Ukraine to boost his war effort.
Lithuania – a NATO state – was today rapidly becoming a flashpoint after it blocked goods sanctioned by the EU from reaching Russian exclave Kaliningrad.
The Lithuanian chargé d'affaires in Moscow was told that unless cargo transit was resumed in the near future, Russia reserves the right to act to protect its national interests.
Moscow's Foreign Ministry said: "We consider provocative measures of the Lithuanian side which violate Lithuania's international legal obligations, primarily the 2002 Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the European Union on transit between the Kaliningrad region and the rest of the Russian Federation, to be openly hostile."
Lithuania's President Gitanas Nauseda arrives to the Three Seas Summit in Riga, Latvia June 20, 2022
Loyalist senator Andrey Klimov warned this was “direct aggression against Russia, literally forcing us to immediately resort to proper self-defence”.
The head of the parliamentary sovereignty protection commission vowed that Russia would solve the blockade “in ANY way we choose”.
Any direct Russian attack on alliance member state Lithuania would be seen as an act of war against NATO.
An aerial view captured by a drone shows a residential building destroyed by shelling in Kyiv in early March
As such, it would likely trigger World War Three.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of the Lithuanian blockade: “This decision is really unprecedented. It's a violation of everything.”
He warned: "We consider this illegal. The situation is more than serious…we need a serious in-depth analysis in order to work out our response.”
Konstantin Kosachyov, senate deputy speaker, claimed Lithuania was flouting international law in banning goods reaching Lithuania from Russia via Belarus.
A woman walks beside the Mariupol hospital razed to the ground in a Russian military strike
Russian state TV reporter Grigory Yemelyanov, from Channel 1, warned over footage of blocked trains: “The attempt to isolate the region is – from the point of view of international law – in fact a casus belli, a term meaning a formal reason to declare war.”
Another senator Andrey Klishas stated: “Lithuania’s attempt to establish a virtual blockade of the Kaliningrad region is a violation of Russia’s sovereignty over this region and may be the basis for very tough and absolutely legal actions on the part of Russia.”
Putin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky warned in The Financial Times that the Kremlin leader’s “next step” would be an “air blockade of Lithuania.
Putin greets the audience as he attends a concert marking the eighth anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea in Moscow on March 18, 2022
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
He added: “It will allow Russian aviation to fly right through between Russia and Kaliningrad. Then Nato will face a question of what to do.”
Former Russian presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak – a TV presenter – warned: "After Lithuania banned the transit of sanctioned goods to the Kaliningrad region through its territory, Russian politicians and the media have started talking…the basis for declaring war.”
Putin henchmen were also warning of the threat of war in Kazakhstan after Putin was “humiliated” by Kazakh leader Kassym-Jomart Tokayev when they shared a platform together on Friday at Russia’s major economic summit in St Petersburg.
Tokayev snubbed Putin by refusing to recognise the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics as independent states.
One account said Putin was “literally furious” and felt humiliated – with some saying he's ready for “revenge”.
Pro-Putin MP Konstantin Zatulin warned of ‘Ukraine-like measures’ from Russia in Kazakhstan.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov warned Kazakhstan: “You’ve got to stand with Russia and show your position, and not be scared of US and EU sanctions.”
Kazakhstan and other ex-Soviet states were “all silent, fearing the sanctions of America or Europe”.
An oil exporting terminal in Kazakhstan had been disrupted by Russia, according to reports.
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In another report General SVR channel claimed Putin has not ruled out a major mobilisation of half a million men in five regions of western Russia close to Ukraine.
This could happen if Ukraine hit civilian and military facilities on a continued basis.
The regions mentioned were Bryansk, Kursk, Belgorod, Voronezh and Rostov.
Ukrainian reports said that Putin is seeking to pressure Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko into opening a second front by invading Volyn, Rivne and Kyiv regions.