VILNIUS – Lithuania had sought wider EU sanctions for Russia than the package agreed by EU ministers, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says, adding that the package was approved to impose sanctions as fast as possible.
"I am from the group of those ministers who would like to have wider sanctions and a tougher and greater deterrence response. But decisions are based on a consensus and we need to look for common agreement," the minister told a press conference on Wednesday.
"We have to agree that today the speed of making decisions is more important than the ongoing discussion, therefore, we agreed with what we have with potential further additions," Landsbergis added.
Lithuania's position was "to implement the strongest sanctions possible" the countries could agree in a day, the minister said.
"My point yesterday was that if there's more agreement around the table to expand sanctions, let's expand them, but if we see that things needs one more day, negotiations resume and we fail to catch up with the US and other countries, let's make it in the scope we agree, that was my position," Landsbergis said.
Nevertheless, he called this sanction package "an unprecedented case".
"It’s not only a response to Russia's actions by 27 EU member states, (…) it's a common Western response as the US, the UK, Canada joined the same sanction package, and Japan later stated it would support some sanctions," Landsbergis said.
SANCTIONS FOR HUNDREDS RUSSIAN POLITICIANS
The foreign minister told BNS on Tuesday there were some 400 natural persons on the Russian sanction list, as well as business and banks operating in Donetsk and Luhansk. During the press conference, he said it was not the end and the West' reaction could get stronger as Russia's further moves were being monitored.
"What we have now (…) is a major package and it is really very painful. And I want to believe that it’s not the end as many countries in the world are waking up as they see that Russia is doing," Lithuania's top diplomat said. "We need to react to the changing situation."
"RUSSIA HAS THE POSSIBILITY TO STOP"
Landsbergis also said he had proposed to all EU foreign minister to travel to Ukraine on Friday and "to make further decision in Kyiv, together", and they also agreed to keep in tough every day to consider the possibility to further expand the existing sanctions.
"Russia has the possibility to stop as, otherwise, we will take action," the politician said.
Tensions in the region are high as the Kremlin has massed hundreds of thousands of its troops near Ukraine's border and as Russia on Monday decided to recognize the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic as independent states and deployed troops in these territories.
The move led to condemnation in the West and sanctions.
On Wednesday, Putin said Moscow was ready to look for "diplomatic solutions" but underlined that his country's interests were not open to debate.
Ukraine's forces have been fighting pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country since 2014. The conflict has cost over 14,000 lives so far.