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Lithuanian FM: EU Russia Sanctions 'Sometimes Too Little, Sometimes Too Late'

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius

BRUSSELS -- Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius has said that EU sanctions in response to Russia's actions destabilizing the situation in Ukraine are “sometimes too little, sometimes too late.”

Linkevicius was speaking on February 18 in an interview with RFE/RL in Brussels, where the EU foreign ministers discussed the situation in Ukraine.

The EU has imposed sanctions on Russia in response to its seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region in March 2014 and its support for separatists in a conflict that has killed more than 10,300 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.

The measures, which mainly target the Russian banking and energy sectors, have since been extended every six months.

And last week, EU diplomats agreed to slap asset freezes and visa bans on eight Russians involved in the capture and detention of 24 Ukrainian seamen during an incident near the Kerch Strait connecting the Black Sea with the Azov Sea in November.

These sanctions are expected to be rubber-stamped later this month.

Linkevicius welcomed the decision but said: “I would like to react to it more quickly, you know, because the incident was at the end of November.”

“We would be more efficient if we take measures quickly, promptly, and strongly,” the Lithuanian minister also said. “So sometimes it's not quickly and sometimes even not very strong.”

Several EU member states, including Lithuania, pushed to quickly adopt the sanctions following the incident near the Kerch Strait, but RFE/RL sources at the time said that France, Germany, and Italy were opposed to such a move.

Linkevicius said that it was “important” to react, even late, because "the other option would be no reaction. I believe it's not the option."

“Let's take what it is realistic to be achieved, and I hope we'll continue in this consensus manner and continue assessing the situation in Ukraine and supporting Ukraine.”

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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.