Lithuania to seek sanctions on Russian energy, goods movement, banks – finmin

  • 2022-04-05
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuania will seek new European sanctions on Russian energy, the movement of goods, and banks, Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste said on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of the EU's Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN) Council in Luxembourg, the minister said that changes will be sought "in four main work streams".

"Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraine; I think we should broaden sanctions and take them to another level," she told reporters. "We should cut purchases of Russian oil, gas and coal."   

The EU has said this week that it is discussing on a new round of sanctions on Russia following the discovery of mass graves and hundreds of brutally murdered civilians in Bucha after the town northwest of Kyiv was retaken by the Ukrainian army.

However, EU leaders have so far failed to agree on an embargo on Russian oil and gas imports, because some of the bloc's member countries are heavily dependent on Russian energy resources.

Lithuania announced at the end of last week that its gas transmission system had been operating without Russian gas imports since the beginning of April. 

"We are showing a good example to all EU countries that it is possible," Skaiste said. "They should make a plan how to say goodbye to Russian gas and how to get gas from other parts of the world. I think this is possible." 

According to the minister, more financial institutions, such as Sberbank and Gazprombank, should be excluded from the SWIFT interbank payment system.

She also noted that a third effective direction for sanctions is the closure of ports and roads to Russian goods.

Among other things, Russia must be expelled from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, she said. 

Skaiste also noted the need for additional EU-level financial instruments for member states hosting war refugees, including Lithuania. 

"Europe has to show solidarity and offer concrete and effective financial instruments to meet the needs of refugee host countries," she said.

Over 4 million people have fled Ukraine, more than half of them to Poland, since Russia invaded its neighbor in late February. Almost 40,400 war refugees from Ukraine have been registered in Lithuania, according to the latest official statistics.