VILNIUS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda will on Thursday take part in the European Council's meeting where he will seek unanimous support from the bloc's leaders for candidate status to Ukraine.
The European Commission recommended last week that the war-torn country be granted the status, as a first step on the long path toward EU membership.
"We consider it as a historic European Council [meeting] because of this," Asta Skaisgiryte, the president's chief foreign policy adviser, has told BNS.
"Our reasoning is that Ukraine still has a lot to do on the road to reform, nobody is arguing about that, but it is Ukraine that is now fighting a war for European values and is paying in human lives for it," she said.
According to the advisor, Lithuania will also seek that EU leaders endorse candidate status for Moldova, as recommended by the Commission.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, who attended a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg earlier this week, said that the Commission's recommendation on Ukraine was supported even by former sceptics.
However, he added that "the battle is not yet won" and that "minor drafting changes" could turn the whole process upside down.
In Brussels, Nauseda will also seek to secure EU leaders' backing for Vilnius in its stand-off with Moscow over restrictions on the transit of some goods to Russia's Kaliningrad exclave, according to Skaisgiryte.
"The president will raise this issue because it is a topical issue in our lives and because Russia has threatened Lithuania, which is implementing EU sanctions, with a full range of retaliatory measures," the advisor said.
"In our opinion, it would be the right thing to say that this is an EU matter – not Lithuania's, but the EU's – and that the EU stands in solidarity when it comes to the implementation of the sanctions," she added.
Lithuania restricted the transit of some Russian goods to Kaliningrad after EU sanctions came into force last week.
Moscow has threatened to take retaliatory measures against Vilnius.
In response to the Kremlin's statements, the United States and Germany have expressed their support for Lithuania.
Among other things, Nauseda is expected to propose that the EU start discussions on a seventh package of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Lithuania wants the new restrictions to cover the gas and banking sectors, as well as sanctions on a wider range of individuals, including Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.