By Rafael Molina
Madrid, Dec 20 (EFE).- Building up Ukraine’s army – rather than negotiating with Russia – will be the best way to bring the war in the country to an end, Lithuania’s foreign minister told Efe in an interview on Tuesday.
During an official visit to Madrid, Gabrielius Landsbergis said that the current state of the war means that opening negotiations with Moscow while it still controls parts of Ukraine would only prolong the conflict.
According to Landsbergis, negotiations should only be initiated once Russia withdraws from Ukraine, as otherwise the Kremlin would be able to buy time to start a new phase of the invasion.
“We did that in 2014. We forced Ukraine to negotiate,” he said, referring to Russia’s invasion and annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
Landsbergis warned against repeating the same mistake.
“It got us nowhere. It just gave time to Russia to restore its army, modernize its army, and prepare for the next attack. And this is where we are now,” he added.
Lithuania’s top diplomat believes that the war must be resolved on the battlefield rather than at the negotiating table, calling for Ukraine to be provided with artillery, tanks, and even jets, to break Russia’s “momentum”.
SANCTIONS ISOLATE MOSCOW AND UNITE EUROPE
Landsbergis said Western sanctions on Russia have been “definitely effective” as they have achieved making it “the most isolated country in the whole world, apart maybe from North Korea.”
The economic measures have also prevented Russia from obtaining materials to fuel its war machine since Moscow’s weaponry is “completely dependent on Western technology,” said Landsbergis.
The minister said that another effect of the sanctions is that they have eroded Russian revenues from the sale of their natural resources.
“They sell to us natural resources like gas and oil and minerals or metals. And we send the money. And they use the money to fight the wars with their neighbors,” he said.
Landsbergis said that reaching the sanctions agreement was not easy, but the results have been beneficial for the European Union, as they have proven the bloc can “lower dependence on the non-democratic countries” while fast forwarding its “green and energy plans.”
BELARUS, THE UNCOMFORTABLE NEIGHBOR
The minister also expressed concern about the future role that Belarus, Moscow’s main ally, may play in the conflict.
He said the shared, 700-kilometer border between Lithuania and Belarus was being closely monitored, although there were no intelligence reports as yet to suggest Minsk posed a threat in that direction.
Landsbergis added that Belarus’ president Alexsandr Lukashenko was coming under “a lot of pressure” from Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
“I think that the biggest danger is that Belarus could open what is called the second front in the south (on its border with Ukraine).”EFE