Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 08.12.2018
Lithuania isn’t waiting for European Union sanctions – which may never come. Instead, the EU and NATO member state is imposing national sanctions on Russian individuals responsible for the attacks on the Ukrainian Navy which occurred on November 25 in the Kerch Strait and the Black Sea.
The President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, was on an official visit to Kyiv on December 7. At a press conference with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, President Grybauskaitė said: “We know that international organizations have not yet adopted any sanctions against Russian actions. However, we imposed our national sanctions in protest against the attack in the Kerch Strait. We also decided to provide assistance in form of munitions, we send our instructors, military instructors, cyber instructors and humanitarian aid. We also support all civil initiatives of our people to help you in your struggle.”
President Poroshenko thanked Lithuania for its leadership, and called on other international partners to impose sanctions on the Russian Federation over its aggression. Russian attacks in Crimea, in Donbas, in the Sea of Azov, in the Black Sea, and in cyberspace are a direct threat to European security and a challenge to the entire democratic world, he said.
Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Linus Linkevičius, sent a tweet to coincide with the announcement of sanctions: “Lithuania has decided to blacklist Russian officials responsible for an attack on Ukrainian vessels in Kerch Strait and BlackSea. We urge our EU allies to follow. Blatant violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and international law must bear consequences.” Minister Linkevičius is a proven friend of Ukraine and defender of Europe from Russian aggression: he has visited the battlefront in Donbas where the Russian Federation is invading, more than once.
The national sanctions which Lithuania imposed are against 20 Russian individuals who personally participated in the unprovoked attack against service members of the Ukrainian Navy, as well as their leaders and commanders. There are radio intercepts and there is video from the time of the attack, so it is not difficult to determine who the war criminals are.
Condemnation of Russian aggression is not enough. Linus Linkevičius said this plainly. “This is a direct call to others … and others are also thinking about such measures, that I know,” said Lithuania’s foreign minister.
From soon after the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, Lithuania has supplied ammunition to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Soon after the NATO military training mission started in Yavoriv, Lviv region, Ukraine, Lithuania was a contributing member state. Lithuania has helped Ukraine resist Russian aggression to a degree that goes well beyond its small size. Germany and France should be ashamed of themselves for the inadequacy of their response compared to Lithuania’s.
Lithuania is leading the EU and reminding the other members of their responsibilities. Sanctions on Russian individuals and entities was the right thing to do when the Russian Federation invaded and occupied Crimea, Ukraine in 2014. The EU imposed these sanctions even though the Russians lied about the nature of their war against Ukraine, calling Russian soldiers “little green men” and “friendly people” and other such nonsense. The Russian Federation’s attack on three Ukrainian Navy boats on November 25 was a clear act of war, for which the Russians are in the wrong and responsible. Extensive and punitive sanctions must be imposed on the Putin regime that is waging war against Europeans in Ukraine. Sanctions are the least help that the EU (and the US and Canada and Japan and other countries) can give to Ukraine: the sole fighting defender of Western civilization against an implacable assault by Muscovy.