“I believe it is not only in Kiev but also in Lithuania and the rest of Europe that everyone understands that the war has reached a new phase – the hybrid war, which used to be more of an infiltration, is now taking a new invasive shape,” Vaitiekūnas told BNS in a telephone interview from Ukraine on Thursday.
In his words, EU leaders “have not allowed themselves to believe for an instant that the conflict is global and can affect any other European country in the next step”.
“I suggest that we […] start calling it a war,” he said.
The diplomat said he could not comment on the decision of European leaders to address the conflict by way of negotiations, as the embassy is “an institution executing politics”. However, Vaitiekūnas said, in his opinion, the response to Russia can only be “from the position of force”.
“The position has to be very responsible, however, [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin has to be talked to from the position of force. We must break down Russia’s conviction that, in Europe, order can be dictated by force […]. First of all, I mean the political demarche – the measures that boost our military, energy, political and financial security. Then there can only be sanctions as punishment for manoeuvres and actions that are dangerous for our world,” said Vaitiekūnas.
On Thursday, Ukraine and the West accused Moscow of direct involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. In NATO’s words, more than 1,000 Russian troops are present in Ukraine to help separatist fighters.
Meanwhile Russia denies having sent soldiers to Ukraine.