VILNIUS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda on Monday called for the isolation of Russia and its ally Belarus "in all sectors and in all international organizations" by tightening the existing sanctions imposed since Russia started a war against Ukraine.
He spoke about that during his meeting with visiting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Vilnius.
"We talked separately about the further tightening of the existing sanctions for Russia. We must completely isolate the aggressor country in all sectors and in all international organizations," Nauseda told reporters on Monday.
"We must cut all Russian and Belarusian financial institutions off of the SWIFT system, close our seaports as we have closed our airspace. As soon as possible, we must ensure the European Union's independence from Russia's energy resources," the Lithuanian president said.
The two leaders discussed the situation in the region, the war in Ukraine and bilateral relations and exchanged views on issues to be discussed at the upcoming NATO summit and the European Council.
"We discussed our grave concerns about the ever-increasing proximity of the Russian threat. As we saw only last weekend, Putin has given us no reason to assume that there will be a quick end to this senseless violence in Ukraine. Here, in Lithuania, people have long had serious concerns about security in this region. I understand it completely," the Dutch prime minister said.
LITHUANIA SAFEGUARDS EUROPEAN SECURITY – RUTTE
The Dutch prime minister stressed the importance of EU-NATO unity in the wake of aggression.
"It is vital that we all, as European partners and NATO allies, continue to act with unity. As an immediate neighbor of both Russia and Belarus, Lithuania plays a crucial role in safeguarding European security," he said, adding that Lithuania's border is Europe's border.
"We are all responsible for protecting and also defending that territory. This makes Dutch military personnel here in Lithuania more relevant than ever," Rutte said.
Some 250 Dutch troops are now stationed in Lithuania, the Lithuanian army told BNS.
Rutte also praised Lithuania for helping Ukrainian refugees.
"Previously, Lithuania provided shelter to thousands of Belarusian political refugees and now we are again seeing Lithuania's generosity towards refugees of Ukraine," the Dutch prime minister said.
It's important to maintain ties with partners in this difficult hour. This is why he's visiting Lithuania and Poland and is soon set to go to Turkey, Rutte said.
Nauseda said he had proposed to the Netherlands during the meeting to send more troops to Lithuania and to increase the country's forces currently deployed as part of the NATO Forward Presence battalion.
"I suggested to Mr. Mark that we could accept more troops and I think my suggestion was heard and will be considered," the president said, adding that the meeting focused on Russia's war in Ukraine and the strengthening of European defense.
"We agreed that NATO must strengthen its eastern flank. EU countries should increase their defense budgets so that we are ready to face any threat," the Lithuanian president said.
Assistance to Ukraine, in particular, air defense systems, was also discussed during the meeting, as well as the possibility of providing humanitarian corridors, which, according to Nauseda, would save "thousands of civilian lives and health".
The Dutch prime minister also met with Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte and the two discussed aid to Ukraine, support for Ukrainian people fleeing the war, the tightening of the existing sanctions for Russia and Belarus, and Ukraine's European integration aspirations.