VILNIUS – Sanction packages for Russia and Belarus are being drafted, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis and Asta Skaisgiryte, an adviser to the country's President Gitanas Nauseda, have confirmed.
"Speaking of Russia and Belarus, the sanction issue is on the agenda. For Russia, sanctions related to Navalny's arrest and what Lithuania and other like-minded countries could propose to the European Union, especially following High Representative Borrell's visit to Moscow," Skaisgiryte told a press conference on Tuesday.
The initiatives regarding sanctions for Russia and Belarus, as well as other issues, were on Tuesday discussed during a meeting of the Lithuanian president and the foreign minister. Following the meeting, Landsbergis said that conversations were underway on the EU's fourth package of sanctions, adding that the Baltic states could introduce their own package of sanctions sooner.
"The fourth sanction package (for Belarus) is a European sanction package. There are no clear criteria yet on how it will be drafted. We with the Baltic counterparts are speaking about agreeing on a list of sanctions for people who would not be able come to the Baltic states. At this preliminary stage, I could not provide information as the discussions are ongoing and evidence on persons on the list is being collected," Landsbergis said after the meeting.
In Russia's case, Landsbergis says, "we are speaking mostly about the so-called Navalny list, the people who are related to or have contributed to Navalny's detention, imprisonment, trial, and probably the people behind that as well".
"Lithuania is taking part in this process, we are taking part in discussions with counterparts from the Baltic states and Poland as well, and we hope that list will be presented to responsible EU institutions shortly and considered at the top political level," the minister said.
Asked whether he expected EU countries' backing for sanctions for Russia, especially after EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell's recent visit to Moscow, Landsbergis said it was a tough lesson, adding that "once we learn from this lesson, we need to see what can be done further to avoid such unfortunate situations repeat".
Borrell faced criticism over his visit to Moscow after it sent several EU diplomats out and amid ongoing protests in the country.
"We see that even Mr. Borrell acknowledges that it was a tough lesson for him personally and probably for the whole of Europe, and once we learn from this lesson, we need to see what can be done further to avoid such unfortunate situations. I believe joint approval of the Navalny list of heavy sanctions would be a good step and a good response," Landsbergis said.