Softening Russia sanctions would be mistake, Lithuanian foreign minister says

Linas Linkevičius
AFP/Scanpix

“There’s a turning moment now and, I would say, not only in Ukraine itself but also in our behaviour and actions, in the unity of the international community, let’s be clear. As there are tendencies, which were also felt before, that perhaps we should change our tactics, we hear comments that these sanctions are not so much effective, perhaps we should renounce them. (…) And it’s being planned, perhaps it’s still difficult, of course, to estimate it now, but a further invasion into eastern Ukraine is being planned, therefore, loosening the reins or reducing pressure in some other way would be a huge mistake,” he told the Žinių Radijas news radio on Thursday morning.

According to Linkevičius, the situation has deteriorated even more, therefore, resolute behaviour is the only way to avoid a frozen conflict.

“We really need to focus after the so-called elections, as the situation has worsened. The agreements reached in Minsk in early September have been breached. Therefore, we must act resolutely as otherwise we would create another frozen conflict, and many believe it has already been created. And it would prevent Ukraine’s European integration. That seems to be the plan of the masterminds,” the Lithuanian foreign minister said.

Linkevičius also thinks that the European Union should expand its list of unwanted persons.

“In fact, the list is very small as it has only 119 names, if I am not mistaken. And judging from the existing scope of activity we see, we should focus on many more people,” he told the Žinių Radijas, asked whether he agreed with an adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said that separatists’ leaders elected in disputed elections in eastern Ukraine on Sunday should be included into the EU’s personae non gratae list alongside other separatists and Russian officials.

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