2021.02.19 10:22

EU must ramp up Russia sanctions, Lithuanian president tells DW

Richard Connor, Deutsche Welle2021.02.19 10:22

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has told DW that European Union sanctions against Russia should be ramped up. EU foreign ministers are expected to discuss such measures next week.

New, targeted EU sanctions against the Kremlin could have an impact on the Russian leadership, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda told DW.

Nausėda's comments come as EU foreign ministers are seeking to draft an agreement on measures against Moscow following the sentencing of dissident Alexei Navalny. He said the bloc's sanctions applied on Russia over its role in the Ukraine conflict and the annexation of Crimea were no longer enough.

“The sanctions, which were imposed against Russia in 2014, had the impact on the Russian economy and they were painful,” said Nausėda. “Maybe this is the reason why Russian authorities are so nervous recently if we talk about the relations of the European Union and Russia. Sanctions have the impact, but this impact probably so far is not sufficient.”

Nausėda explained that the EU's size and differing national perspectives meant that it was difficult to agree on a common approach.

“It would be strange if all members of the European Union have absolutely equal attitude to Russia. Because our experience is different, because our tradition, the historical ties with Russia are different.”

“And, of course, the neighbourhood – we are in direct neighbourhood to Russia [sic], and some countries are far away. And in this situation, it's very difficult to find this, as I call it, a common denominator of the policy.”

He said he thought finding common ground might prove possible, if other nations could be made to see the threat Russia posed to its neighbors.

“If we make additional efforts and if some a situation comes and everybody sees that Russia is a threat, that Russia's behaviour is really dangerous for the neighbours and for the region – in this situation, it's possible to find a solution and to impose the sanctions, if needed.”

Nausėda said sanctions should be targeted against individuals and entities that would impact the Russian government. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline project to supply gas from Russia to Germany would be one example, he said.

“We should include into this range of sanctions the Nord Stream 2 project because it would be painful for the Russian regime,” said the president. However, Nausėda also said the decision lay with Germany, with construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline already largely completed.

“We understand that this project is in the stage of implementation, and, of course, it's not so easy to make final decisions in this regard,” he said.