Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said Monday that EU sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine should remain in effect if the ground situation does not improve. Linkevicius statement was made in response to calls from the EU’s rotating president, Slovakia, that the sanctions be lifted.
The energy, financial, and defense sanctions were imposed on Moscow after its annexation of Crimea in March 2014. In June, the EU agreed to extend the sanctions until the end of January 2017. After a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico dismissed the sanctions as harmful while accomplishing nothing.
“I personally think that it’s time to address the subject rationally and admit that they harm both the EU and Russia,” Fico wrote in a Facebook post, accompanied by photos of his meeting with Putin, according to Russian government news agency RT.
Fico’s sentiments have been echoed by Czech president Milos Zeman, a supporter of Russia, who believes the sanctions should be lifted as well.
“My immediate reaction to comments like that is that if we have reached absolutely nothing, then let’s add more sanctions,” Linkevicius was quoted as saying by Reuters, in response to Fico’s statement.
“We know that there is still military equipment and military personnel of Russian Federation in the territory of Ukraine,” Linkevicius added, “and I’m not speaking about the border line.”