2021.02.23 10:00

EU sanctions on Russia ‘first step on road to success’, says Lithuanian FM

BNS2021.02.23 10:00

Although the EU has succeeded in adopting new sanctions on Moscow, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has called it the “first step” in targeting those close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Today's agreement is the first step on the road to success," Landsbergis said in a press release on Monday evening after EU foreign ministers agreed to impose sanctions on four senior Russian officials deemed responsible for the jailing of Navalny and a crackdown on his supporters.

"It is important not to limit ourselves to individuals who are directly responsible for the conviction of Alexei Navalny," he said. "We must seek to put on the sanctions list also those whom the regime has used to orchestrate the case against Navalny, including persons from Putin’s inner circle."

The agreement on sanctions has shown that the European Union can react both quickly and unanimously, according to the minister.

"If we want to help civil society in Russia, the best way to do this is to impose sanctions on those Russian judges and prosecutors, who are part of the corrupt law enforcement system and legitimise the systematic repression of Russia's democratic institutions, free media and political opposition by the regime," he said.

The targeted individuals have not been named yet.

Read more: After Moscow fiasco, sacking EU's chief diplomat won't solve anything for Baltics – opinion

Navalny's associates had urged the EU to hit oligarchs accused of funding Putin's rule with sanctions. Diplomats say the current sanctions target those directly linked to the crackdown.

The EU has already imposed sanctions on Russia over the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine.

Last October, the bloc sanctioned six Russian officials over the poisoning of Navalny with the nerve agent Novichok.

The latest sanctions will be imposed under the EU's new human rights regime.

"Sanctions under the EU global human rights sanctions regime can be imposed on those responsible for the acts of genocide, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations or abuses (eg torture, slavery, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests or detentions),” the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“Other human rights abuses can also fall under the scope of the sanctions regime where those violations are widespread, systematic or are otherwise of serious concern,” it added.