RIGA - Russia must be held accountable for the crimes it has committed in Ukraine, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau told members of the press in Riga today.
Today, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics welcomed the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Eva-Maria Liimets, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland Zbigniew Rau to Riga.
According to Rau, the international community must realize that Russia's attack on Ukraine is also an attack on the international order based on rule of law, which will have far-reaching consequences. At a time when the Kremlin is threatening the region and Russia is committing atrocities in Ukraine, the countries must be united. Kyiv must be supported by decisive action, the strengthening existing sanctions and imposing further restrictions.
"It is important for Ukraine to receive as much assistance as possible, including military assistance. Although Poland, like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, is contributing, Ukraine needs even more support in this unequal fight. The international community must respond urgently to Kyiv's requests for supplies of heavy weaponry," said the Polish Foreign Minister.
He noted that Russia's aggression, as well as Belarus' involvement, are forcing a change in NATO's deterrence and defense policy. Rau noted that Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia agree on the need for additional deployment of NATO allied forces in the region to ensure that any possible Russian attack is repelled.
Meanwhile, the Estonian Foreign Minister emphasized that the war in Ukraine is going on for the third month in a row. Russia is showing military aggression, accompanied by hybrid activities such as cyber-attacks and the spread of fake news. According to Liimets, all this has changed the security environment in Europe, so it is important that NATO's new Strategic Concept takes into account the new security environment. It is important for the Baltic States and Poland for the strengthening of collective defense, especially in the eastern flank.
"The member states of the European Union must continue to be united in their position. The unity between NATO and the EU allies is remarkable. This clearly shows that the whole world sees Russia as an aggressor violating international law," the minister said.
According to her, the ministers discussed ways to better support Ukraine in these difficult times. Liimets emphasized that Estonia was among the countries that began supplying Ukraine with military equipment before the war. To date, Estonia has provided EUR 220 million in military assistance to Ukraine and EUR 15 million in humanitarian assistance. Not only Estonian civil society but also business people and non-governmental organizations are involved in providing humanitarian aid.
The Estonian Foreign Minister noted that the ministers also discussed the planned EU sanctions. According to her, it is important for the Baltic States and Poland that the EU continues impose strong sanctions on Russia. The sixth sanctions package is expected to include the energy sector.
The Lithuanian Foreign Minister emphasized that the coming months before the NATO summit in Madrid will be significant. The Baltic states and Poland plan to use all diplomatic channels to explain to NATO partners and allies how the security situation in the region has changed since February 24.
He reminded that after 2014, when Russia first attacked Ukraine, NATO pursued a different strategy, increasing its presence and the number of troops in some countries on the eastern flank. Landsbergis emphasized that the situation has changed again, so the Baltic states and Poland agree on the need for NATO to change its deterrence and defense policy by increasing the presence of troops and the number of weapons in the region. The minister said this needed a political decision.