VILNIUS – Even though the European Union (EU) dropped a move to impose sanctions against Russian Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Kirill, Lithuania would seek to have him blacklisted in the 7th package of sanctions against Kremlin, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said.
“A package of obvious evidence was submitted, which was used as a basis to include Patriarch Kirill [in the draft sixth package]. It would not have been possible without evidence,” he told reporters in the Seimas on Thursday.
“All ambassadors of 27 countries and, what is most interesting, the leaders of 27 states were in favor of that move.”
According to Landsbergis, the patriarch was excluded from the list of sanctions in the final stage, “after the leaders’ decision but before the publication of a legal document”.
“Obviously, there was even political consensus. I cannot say what were the reasons [for his exclusion], I don’t know. But this allows us to say that there is a legal basis, that we practically had political consensus and therefore can try seeking consensus anew,” the minister said.
The sixth EU package of sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine came into effect formally last week. Despite certain exemptions for Hungary, the Community prohibited the import of seaborne crude oil from Russia, with a transitory period of six months.
It was also Hungary, which objected to the inclusion of Patriarch Kirill in the latest package of sanctions. Budapest repeatedly said it was against the blacklist, calling it an issue of religious freedom.
Brussels accuses Patriarch Kirill of supporting the invasion of Ukraine and acting as a propagandist for Vladimir Putin’s regime.
In a sermon delivered in early May, Kirill stated that "Russia has never attacked anyone" and that "we don't want to go to war".
"It is amazing that a great and mighty country has never attacked anyone - it has only defended its borders," he added.