Rinkēvičs: We need to do the opposite of what Putin wants

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs hit the airwaves hard Tuesday morning to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin's latest dangerous gamble with international peace and order.

Rinkēvičs carried out a series of interviews, including one with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 'Today' news show, in which he said:

"In the short perspective, yes, of course sanctions cannot stop Russia from invading Ukraine or doing what it did, but in the long term – especially if those sanctions are related to technology transfers and to the financial sector – they actually would slow down the development of Russia and that would actually repeat some kind of Soviet Union experience. At one given time in history, the Soviet Union simply collapsed.

"I always hear this kind of criticism about sanctions, that they do not stop Russia or they do not stop Venezuela or Syria or any country from exercising its aggressive policies, and that's right, but I think that eight years ago, sanctions that we applied after the downing of flight MH17, they really stopped Russia from advancing at that point.

"Eight years later – and we heard President Putin's speech yesterday – Russia is even more aggressive and, let's say, fearless of the immediate effects. But in the long term I do believe that sanctions have effect.

Asked if he believed President Putin was behaving in a rational manner, Rinkēvičs replied, with perhaps an excess of diplomacy:

"I do believe his speech was rational from his point of view, and he was talking about the grievances of a lost empire. I do believe that he wants to restore some greatness of Russia, but not even Bolshevik Russia or Soviet Russia but Tsarist Russia. From his point of view the speech was rational, from our point of view it was, frankly, very dangerous."


The EU, US and UK should apply sanctions, particularly to oligarchs and those close to Putin, Rinkēvičs said. In addition NATO's presence on its eastern flank should be increased, civil society in Russia should be supported and Ukraine should be given financial and military assistance to make it "as resilient as possible".

"He wants to avoid a NATO presence on Russia's borders by invading other countries. So we need to do precisely the opposite of what he wants. We need to increase NATO's presence," Rinkēvičs said.


The Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said Tuesday it had summoned a representative of the Russian embassy in Rīga to "strongly condemn Russia's aggression against Ukraine, which was based on fabricated pretexts and the spread of outright false information. The decision taken by the Russian president yesterday is a continuation of the attack on Ukraine's statehood and territorial integrity that Russia launched in 2014."


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