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Estonia, Lithuania Threaten Seizure of Russian Vehicles

Riga, Latvia. Raimond Klavins / Unsplash

Estonian and Lithuanian officials have warned that passenger vehicles with Russian license plates could soon be confiscated following a Baltics-wide entry ban. 

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia issued back-to-back entry bans this week for Russian-registered cars after the European Commission clarified that existing regulations prohibit the import or transfer of goods originating in Russia. 

“These cars [with Russian license plates] will have to be confiscated, we have to come to that,” Estonia’s Interior Minister Lauri Laanemets said Thursday, according to the Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

He asked: “Why do cars with Russian license plates drive in Estonia? If these cars are constantly moving here, maybe they should be registered in Estonia?”

Laanemets noted that he was expressing his personal opinion on the issue of Russian-registered cars inside Estonia, which he planned to raise at a cabinet session on Thursday.

Lithuania’s customs chief Darius Zvironas issued a similar warning, telling the local radio station LRT on Wednesday that drivers “may face charges and have their vehicles confiscated” for failing to comply with instructions.

Meanwhile, supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny urged Baltic leaders to lift the vehicle ban on claims that they harm Russian war exiles and play into the Kremlin’s narrative of anti-Russian feelings in the West.

Moscow has accused the EU of “racism” for its ban on passenger vehicles, while former President Dmitry Medvedev called for a suspension of diplomatic relations.

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