VILNIUS - French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in Vilnius on Friday he understands Lithuania's concern over Russia's attack on Ukraine but called for a common approach on additional forces in the region.
"I do understand Lithuania's feeling that you feel vulnerable in the face of such a crisis in Ukraine and Russia's aggression against it," the French top diplomat told reporters at a joint press conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabriel Landsbergis. "In such situations, we have to show that NATO's principle of collective security works."
He said that when asked whether he supported Lithuania's requests to send air defense systems and more troops to the region.
Lithuania seeks agreement on NATO's greater presence in the region before the Alliance's Madrid summit in June and is preparing necessary infrastructure.
According to the French minister, Madrid will "define NATO's new security concept" and the Alliance needs to "learn lessons and draw conclusions" after Russia's aggression in Ukraine.
"(The preparation of the concept - BNS) will include proposals from Lithuania and other countries. It is important to harmonize these proposals, it is important to come to a common approach. The goal is to make all countries, including Lithuania, feel safer", Le Drian said.
Asked whether he was satisfied with the French minister's response to the requests to strengthen NATO's eastern flank, Landsbergis said "we have two months to pool countries together for a common vision".
"We are definitely moving in the right direction. Now it is important to use those two months to identify exactly what the needs are (...) and to pool the rest of those who may still be a bit hesitant to our side," the Lithuanian minister said.
The French minister said that Vilnius and Paris are in agreement on extending the existing sanctions on Russia following its attack on Ukraine.
"The EU will continue tightening those sanctions until the war is finally over and Ukraine finally becomes a sovereign state with territorial integrity," Le Drian said.