No positive signs from Russia, therefore no easing of sanctions, Lithuanian foreign minister says

Linas Linkevičius
AFP/Scanpix

Linkevičius spoke the next day after EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in Riga she saw “some limited positive signs on the Russian side” over Ukraine.

The Lithuanian minister emphasized that Russia continued supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine and sending so-called humanitarian convoys, which cannot be checked by Ukrainian or Red Cross authorities.

“The objective information is that there are no facts of improvement, as (Russia) continues supporting armed groups, the so-called humanitarian convoys continue moving without any restrictions, there have been 11 times so far. Ukrainian or Red Cross officials have not been allowed anywhere near them,” the minister told BNS on Friday.

In Linkevičius’ words, the EU consistently sticks to its position of “revising the sanctions, in case the situation improves, and there is nothing new.”

“However, I would like to argue with those talking about (positive) changes, as the situation we see is quite the opposite. Therefore, we should continue with the policies that have been in place until now, and there are currently no reasons to recall or ease the sanctions,” said the foreign minister.

The EU took limited sanctions on Russia after it annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea last March. The sanctions were tightened after a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet was gunned down above Eastern Ukraine in July 2014.

The economic sanctions are in effect for one year, with support of all EU countries needed to extend, tighten or cancel them.

According to data published by the United Nations, the war in Eastern Ukraine has already claimed over 4,700 lives.

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