It would be "foolish" of Russia to attack Lithuania, given that NATO countries are committed to defending each other in case of external aggression, US Senator Richard Durbin said in Vilnius on Tuesday.
US Senator Richard Durbin
© AP/Scanpix

"It would be foolish. I hope that Mr. Putin won't consider such a thing," he told journalists at the Presidential Palace.

Durbin stressed that the current situation in Ukraine was a far more important issue. He said the Minsk truce agreement, signed in February, was "disappointing", adding, however, that he still hoped for the end of the conflict.

"The Minsk agreement is disappointing. Russia is still violating the agreement almost daily and warfare claiming innocent lives," the senator said.

He hopes the conflict would be resolved, despite the fact that pro-Russian separatists are still attacking Ukraine's largest cities like Mariupol.

But, the senator said, everyone should be ready if Putin decides to move forward.

According to Durbin, by attacking Ukraine, Russia has united not only the country itself but also foreign countries supporting Ukraine.

"A much larger coalition than I ever would have dreamed of. I am particularly proud of America leading in terms of supporting Ukraine today, but I might say I am equally proud of what Lithuania has done," Durbing said. "Lithuania has been so outspoken in support of Ukraine and its freedom and I am proud of what this nation has done."

The recent Moscow visit of the US secretary of state does not mean that America is softening its stance on Russia, Senator Durbin said in Vilnius.

"It is not getting softer. Those of us with long memory and a little grey hair will remember that we met with the Soviets in the worst parts of the Cold War when we had thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at one another. We still sat down and talked," he told journalists at the Presidential Palace.

"So I would not criticize any administration for trying to talk and trying to find the way to peace. I don't think it is a sign of weakness. It is a sign of reality," he added.

US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Russia in early May. US officials said later that the talks in Sochi on Ukraine, Iran and Syria were "frank".

Critics, however, slammed the visit, accusing Kerry of strengthening Putin's image without getting anything in exchange.

Durbin, an active supporter of Ukraine and a co-chairman of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, is one of the most influential American politicians of Lithuanian descent. His mother Ona Kutkaitė was originally from the Lithuanian town of Jurbarkas and emigrated to the USA with her parents. Durbin's father is Irish.

BNS
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