L. Linkevičius: NATO has to increase its support for Ukraine in the face of Russia's new aggressive actions
On 4 December, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius participated in the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Brussels. The Foreign Ministers raised the issue of Russia's aggressive actions against Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Strait.
The Meeting of the North Atlantic Council with Georgia and Ukraine in Foreign Ministers' session discussed the incident of 25 November, restrictions on access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, the militarization of Crimea since Russia's invasion and annexation, and other security issues in the Black Sea region.
L. Linkevičius stressed that only a firm and united response of the international community could prevent Russia from taking further aggressive actions.
"The use of force by Russia to illegally seize Ukrainian vessels and a blockade on Ukrainian ports were unjustified. Such actions cannot be left without consequences," said Lithuania‘s Foreign Minister. He urged Russia to immediately release Ukrainian vessels and their crews, and to restore freedom of passage to the Sea of Azov.
L. Linkevičius emphasized that NATO and its member states had to strengthen provision of versatile support for Ukraine to help the country better prepare to defend itself against external aggression. According to Lithuania‘s Foreign Minister, it is also important to increase NATO‘s security cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia in the Black Sea region.
Lithuania‘s Foreign Minister discussed Russia‘s aggressive actions against Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait also in a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada Chrystia Freeland, which took place in the margins of the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs on 4 December in Brussels.
L. Linkevičius noted that Russia‘s actions in the Azov Sea demonstrated that the country continued to pursue its aggressive policy. Lithuania‘s Foreign Minister highlighted the need to demand that Russia should release the Ukrainian seamen and vessels promptly and ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea in line with the principles set out in the international law and bilateral agreements. "The West must tighten sanctions against Russia, if necessary, " said L. Linkevičius.
The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania and Canada also discussed preparations for the 2019 Ukraine Reform Conference in Toronto and strengthening bilateral economic cooperation following the ratification of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU by the Seimas. Minister L. Linkevičius thanked Canada for its contribution to the strengthening of security in the Baltic Sea region countries.
The Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs on 4-5 December in Brussels discusses transatlantic security issues, the fight against terrorism, other southern challenges, NATO‘s missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. One of the sessions is devoted to the Western Balkans.