President Grybauskaite: EU indecision invites Putin to step up aggression

Dalia Grybauskaitė, Angela Merkel

“These sanctions are a little bit more than before but still not sufficient. We can see that it is not sufficient: already today and yesterday the activities of military actions from the Russian territory is increasing. So, in reality such a delay and such lack of courage from the European Union to impose serious sanctions on Russia I evaluate as an invitation for Putin to be even more aggressive and to perform his task and goals even more openly than before,” Grybauskaitė said in an interview to the US television CNN after the EU summit that ended in late hours of Wednesday.

In her opinion about the European Council’s additional sanctions against Russia, the president said Lithuania will continue explaining the consequences such delay can bring us Europeans in the future.

“That’s our job because we are the closest neighbours and we know that only decisiveness, only strong stance and one voice can make an impression for Putin’s behaviour,” Grybauskaitė told CNN.

She also maintained that the measures to take effect in the end of this month is at least something, however, the EU should apply wider sanctions against physical and legal entities, as the United States have done.

In Grybauskaitė’s words, Europe should be precise to blacklist names and companies that are directly involved in or support the aggressive conduct in the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. She added that the Russian aggression is sensed not only in the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, but also in Russia’s Kaliningrad region bordering the Baltic states and Poland – aggressive military exercises are held there on a regular basis.

“So we need to be faster, to be more proactive, otherwise we will be only to say, that ‘oh, sorry, we overslept Ukraine’,” said the Lithuanian president.

On Wednesday, EU leaders agreed to apply sanctions against Russian companies supporting actions aimed against Ukraine’s territorial integrity, also deciding to freeze the investment programs in Russia carried out by the European Investment Bank and the London-based European Bank for Restructuring and Development.

The EU has already banned travels and frozen assets of 72 persons from Russia and Ukraine who have contributed to instigating the crisis.

However, the EU has so far taken no measures against specific Russian economic sectors, did not impose restrictions upon high-ranking Kremlin officials and did not agree on an arms embargo for Russia.

EU’s new steps came shortly after the United States announced their plans to tighten economic sanctions against Russia. The US Treasury Department said the measures include sanctions against Russia’s oil giant Rosneft and Gazprombank bank. Among persons subjected to the sanctions are Russian Duma’s Vice-Speaker Sergey Neverov, Federal Affairs Minister of the annexed Crimea Oleg Savelyev and Putin’s deputy Igor Shchegolev.

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