- March 4, 2022
Lithuania and The World Support Ukraine
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues. Lithuania’s position is that sanctions against Russia must be maintained until the situation in Russia itself changes. However, our country does not intend to cut diplomatic relations with Russia for the time being.
In Kharkiv alone, 21 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in an airstrike between Tuesday night and Wednesday. President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a Facebook video addressing the world leaders, stated that now no one can be neutral. “Neutral Switzerland supported the EU sanctions (…). Then what are other countries waiting for? (…) Now you cannot remain neutral,” Zelensky said. He pointed out that Russia has already lost nearly six thousand troops. What is more, the Pentagon estimates that Russia has moved into Ukraine 80 percent of their troops, who were concentrated at the border.
On Wednesday, sanctions excluding some Russian banks from the SWIFT system went into effect within the European Union. The sanctions included banks: Otkrytije, Nowikom, PSB, Bank Rossija, Sowkom, VEB and VTB. The ban will come into force on the tenth day after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU and will also apply to any legal person, entity, or body based in Russia, whose ownership rights belong directly or indirectly to more than 50 percent of the banks mentioned above.
Relations and Ports
The head of Lithuanian diplomacy, Gabrielius Landsbergis, stated that at this stage Lithuania is not considering severing diplomatic relations with Russia. He added that sanctions must work until Russia itself changes.
“I think the sanctions we have now must be maintained as long as there exists a Russia as there is now.”
The politician noted that he had spoken to his colleagues from Latvia and Estonia about the closure of Klaipeda port to Russian ships. “I think that such decisions must be taken together (…), they must be taken at least at the level of the Baltic countries. Because the closure of a port by one country does not automatically mean that this country [Russia – Ed.] will suffer such losses as we would like it to suffer.” – Landsbergis added. Earlier, the Minister of Communications, Marius Skuodis, assured that “ships with the flag of the aggressor will be forbidden to call at the port of Klaipeda.” Reuters reported on Tuesday that a ban on Russian ships calling at European ports is being considered by the EU. These would be further, after the air, sanctions aimed at making it difficult for the Russians to carry out trade deliveries. Moreover, the authorities in Madrid are also considering cutting off Russian ships from Spanish ports and territorial waters and the United Kingdom has already closed its ports for Russian vessels.
Jobs for Ukrainians
Lithuania is preparing to take in refugees from Ukraine. Minister of the Interior Agnė Bilotaitė announced that in the near future, a registration center for Ukrainians would be established in Vilnius. “There are already two such points at the border and two registration centers in Mariampol and Olica. Now we are thinking about establishing such a center in Vilnius. Shortly, it is to start its activity.” — said the minister.
The United Nations monitors the issue of Ukrainian refugees. According to this organization’s data, 835 928 people have already left Ukraine. Wizz Air, a cheap airline, offered 100 thousand free tickets and 70 Lithuanian employers announced that they would be able to employ 1000 Ukrainians immediately. “People, if they want it, will be able to operate on the Lithuanian labor market immediately.” — said the Minister of Social Protection and Labour Monika Navickienė.
Translated by Marta Graban within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.