"The steps that have already been taken [by Russian President Vladimir Putin] are irrational on their own. They are illogical, because they are bringing their own economy to ruin, they ruin their own lives. But I nonetheless believe they will not try to threaten NATO territories, because it is impossible," he said in an interview to Latvijas Radio.
When asked what will happen when the conflict in Eastern Ukraine is considered concluded, the minister notes: "We don’t know what will happen. We don’t know what our next steps will be. Again – everything will depend on our position. We need to continue putting pressure. As you know, it is not easy. But we need to continue using sanctions, and there is a very clear reason for this. Even though we see a fragile ceasefire, we do not see any significant changes. We still see the presence of Russian soldiers in Ukraine – this is the most important fact. At the same time, Russians deny their involvement in the conflict. They are not a side that is involved in the conflict – they are the cause of the conflict."
According to the Lithuanian Minister, "it is hard to trust any agreement with these facts considered. This is why we should maintain pressure. This pressure is sanctions – what else can we do? We also need to support the Ukrainian government as much as we can – economically, politically and by supporting their security sector and military forces."
"It may be hard for us to imagine how long the cease-fire will last and if it can be trusted at all, but we definitely should try to preserve all we have accomplished so far. Can we be certain that it is realistic? It is incredibly hard to believe it. Some leaders of those terrorists have announced that they do not respect any ceasefire. They say there is no cease-fire," says the minister.
"Even in regard to the formation of the peace treaty between [Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko and Putin – it is stated that these illegal militants have to leave Ukraine. I have read Ukrainian soldiers believe that these self-proclaimed republics are illegal. There is a lot of controversy. And again I repeat – Russia denies any involvement in the conflict. This is why it is so hard to believe in this treaty. I cannot join optimists in all this," says the Lithuanian politician.
When asked what will happen with Moldova, Linkevičius said: "These will be tough times for our partners, who have made a clear choice. They chose the European perspective. Challenges are coming, and they have to be ready to face them.
"This is my advice, and they know it. We need to be more involved in this. We need to actually help. It is not only their obligation to defend their right to choose. It is our obligation to assist them in defending this right."
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