Baltic countries are piling pressure on European allies to scale up support for Ukraine’s war effort ahead of today’s meeting of EU foreign ministers.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels on his way into the summit, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis endorsed tougher sanctions against Russia and additional military assistance to Ukraine.
“The most important thing we need to discuss is fear: We need to defeat the fear of defeating Russia,” said Landsbergis. He added: “If we don’t prepare for Russia losing the war, then we’re not serious about Ukraine winning.”
The response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine will be a main issue on the agenda in today’s meeting, alongside talks on a fourth package of sanctions against Iran, action against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan after it banned women from universities and a discussion on the Sahel region.
Landsbergis’ remarks echo those from his Estonian counterpart Urmas Reinsalu, who called on colleagues to approve the seventh tranche of the European Peace Facility fund worth €500 million and adopt a 10th package of sanctions against Russia before the one-year anniversary of its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
“Estonia contributes to assisting Ukraine [by spending] 1 percent of its GDP, and we call on other countries to do the same. It will make a difference,” Reinsalu told reporters in Brussels.
Earlier today, Russia’s foreign ministry expelled the Estonian Ambassador to Moscow, accusing the Baltic state of “total Russophobia” and of “destroying” relations with Russia.
These remarks from Baltic countries have been read as a reproach for the German government, which is under fire from NATO allies over its reluctance to deliver advanced Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
“It is central for us as the European Union that while we concern ourselves day and night with the dreadful suffering in Ukraine, and fight side by side with Ukraine so that they can once again live freely and in peace, we do not close our eyes to the suffering in other regions of the world,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock before the start of the Foreign Affairs Council.
Over the weekend, Baerbock said Berlin would not stand in the way of Warsaw sending its own Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, although German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has not yet taken a public position on this point. “If we are asked [by Poland to allow delivery of Leopard 2s], we will not oppose it,” Baerbock told LCI television from Paris on Sunday.