Future of Russia sanctions depends on Minsk agreements – Linkevičius

Pro-Russia separatists in east Ukraine

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“[The] ball is on the Russian side – absolutely. I know that there are a variety of talks and pushes, but we have agreed that sanctions depend on the implementation of the Minsk Agreement. So far it is not fulfilled, there is no sign of that,” said Linkevičius.

Linkevičius pointed out that there has been no shortage of military incidents in Eastern Ukraine recently, he said “It is hard to call that a ceasefire.”

The list of people that the EU sanctions apply to in connection with Russian military aggression will be reviewed in the middle of March on case by case basis, according to the foreign minister. It has been agreed on the EU level that sanctions against Russian companies should be continue until July 31.

Linkevičius stressed that so far Russia has failed to ensure security of the border with Ukraine, does not admit of having its military personnel in the Eastern Ukraine, which must be withdrawn, and has not pulled out heavy military equipment, which so far has only been moved from one location to another.

The international community is still waiting for the elections in Donetsk and Luhansk areas, which must be held in accordance with the Ukrainian laws, said Linkevičius.

“We want to see at least some signs of respect for international law. The latest Russian national security document stills demonstrates the old approach,” Linkevičius said.

Speaking about the complex nature of EU relations with Belarus, the foreign affairs minister pointed out that the most important part of the strategy is to be more open and to provide a motivation to change.

“Nobody plans to do the reforms for the Belarusians or to choose a path for them,” he said.
He also added that Lithuania is closely monitoring the Astrav nuclear power plant construction and with the help of international partners, aims to push Belarus to ensure compliance with recognized nuclear safety standards.

Linkevičius said that the recent wave of border control measures to manage refugee flows to Europe is an attempt to cope with the situation, which has not been foreseen in time in the first place. He said “Those closings of borders have nothing to do with free movement of persons.”

The minister pointed out the need to strengthen the EU external borders, establish new refugee registration centres and ensure their efficient operation.

News portal Alfa.lt asked Mr. Linkevičius whether the Iranian and Saudi Arabian diplomatic conflict could diminish hopes of achieving the settlement of the Syrian civil war this year, and in turn reduce the flows of refugees. Mr. Linkevičius stressed that the situation does not look good, he said “This shows that refugee flows will not decrease.”

The foreign affairs minister mentioned the participation in the United Nations Security Council as one of the greatest achievements of the last year.


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