RIGA - To adopt more severe sanctions on Russia, all European Union (EU) member states must stop fearing Russia, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) said in an interview with TV3 channel Wednesday.
The new package of EU sanctions is not as tough as Karins wanted it to be already at the start of the war, but the sanctions are already "unbelievably stricter" than any sanctions ever applied to a country. For the time being, EU member states are not ready to sanction the entire energy sector, but it is good that they are at least starting with coal, the prime minister said.
"The work is not over. Talks with partners are ongoing, it is essential that all measures are taken jointly," Karins stressed.
In Karins' opinion, the slow change of perspective on Russia is the biggest obstacle to the adoption of harsher sanctions but some progress is already taking place. For instance, everyone now agrees that they should have listened to the Baltic states' warnings of Russia as a major threat.
To adopt more severe sanctions, countries that are still afraid of Russia should overcome these fears and do everything to stop the Russian war machine.
"The attitude today is in stark contrast to what it was on February 23. Germany, too, is now doing everything to wean its economy off Russian gas," Karins said.
"Sanctions will not stop the war. Ukrainian soldiers with Western weapons will stop the war. The sanctions will undermine Russia's ability to rebuild its military in a short period of time, as they will have other issues to think about," the prime minister said.
The Latvian economy's exposure to Russia is estimated at around 8 percent and the sanctions on Russia are likely to affect the Latvian economy as well, Karins admitted. He is confident, however, that most of the companies that have been doing business with Russia will find new business opportunities and that Latvia's economic growth will not stall because of the sanctions.