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‘Russia must be sent to penalty box’, says Lajčák

INDIVIDUAL EU-member countries do not share the same opinion on introducing sanctions against Russia for its military presence on Ukrainian territory, Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák said during a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on March 3, as reported by the TASR newswire.

INDIVIDUAL EU-member countries do not share the same opinion on introducing sanctions against Russia for its military presence on Ukrainian territory, Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák said during a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on March 3, as reported by the TASR newswire.

The proposal that was presented at the meeting suggested the introduction of sanctions and even an arms embargo against Russia, preventing arms from coming in or going out of the country. Lajčák stated that there is no uniform opinion among EU countries, though there is an overriding view, also supported by Slovakia, that certain consequences against Russia must be drawn.

"Russia has committed an act of aggression against Ukraine, it has clearly violated its sovereignty and territorial integrity, it violates international law and its own commitments from bilateral agreements, especially the 1994 Budapest Memorandum [signed by Russia, Ukraine, the US and the UK and spelling the inviolability of borders]," said Lajčák, as quoted by TASR.

According to Lajčák, the EU in its final stance on the matter demanded that Russia immediately withdraws its troops from Crimea and begin to communicate with Ukraine in line with existing agreements.

Concerning the proposals on halting the talks with Russia on visa liberalisation, Lajčák said that the Russian people should not be punished for what the country's leadership is doing.

"Measures need to be adopted - suspending the political dialogue and Russia's membership in the G8. These are measures that have real force. Russia must be sent to the penalty box and expelled from the group of law-abiding countries," said Lajčák.

Following the session of the EU ministers in Brussels, Lajčák flew straight back to Slovakia to attend the session of the government’s Security Council.

Speaking ahead of the session, Lajčák said that Slovakia is likely to be part of the international observer mission in Crimea if such a mission is sent to Ukraine.

“We are very actively standing up for it, to send international observers,” Lajčák said, as quoted by TASR, and noted that the Russian ambassador at the OSCE refused the participation of the OSCE in such a mission. “I agree to send a mission that would consist of representatives of the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe. These are three important international organisations that the Russian Federation is a member of. It would be very strange if they refused the participation of these organisations when they are a member of them.”

Russia has declared that its military operation in Crimea is aimed at protecting the Russian-speaking inhabitants of the peninsula.

“We have an idea of what the Russian Federation wants, but it is not something that I should talk about at a press conference,” Lajčák said after the Security Council session, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

Source: TASR, SITA

Compiled by Michaela Terenzani from press reports.
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information
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