Poland and Lithuania have joined Ukraine in calling for stronger sanctions against Russia, with Polish President Andrzej Duda saying that “everything must be done” to prevent potential Russian military aggression against Ukraine.
In a joint statement issued after their December 20 meeting in the western Ukrainian village of Huta, the Lithuanian, Ukrainian, and Polish presidents “called upon the international community to step up sanctions on the Russian Federation over its ongoing aggression against Ukraine and once again urged the Kremlin to de-escalate the situation by withdrawing its troops from the Ukrainian borders and temporarily occupied territories.”
The trilateral summit, which was part of the Lublin Triangle regional forum, comes as Kyiv and its Western backers accuse Russia of massing about 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine as a possible prelude to an invasion as early as next month.
The European Union has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia over its March 2014 seizure and illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, as well as for Moscow’s backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine in an ongoing conflict that has killed more than 13,200 people since April 2014.
Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Polish President Andrzej Duda said he was “absolutely against any policy of concessions to Russia.”
It is “absolutely undesirable to yield to such an ultimatum, to such blackmail,” he added.
“Our common task is to deter the threat posed by Russia and defend Europe from Russia’s aggressive policies,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, while his Lithuanian counterpart, Gitanas Nauseda, said that any attempts by Russia to draw “red lines” are “unacceptable in Europe in the 21st century.”
The bloc has urged Russia to de-escalate the current situation and engage in renewed diplomacy instead of conflict, threatening strong new sanctions in coordination with Britain and the United States if there were any attack.
Russia denies it has plans to launch an offensive and has issued a series of demands about Ukraine’s potential membership in NATO and the alliance’s activities near its western border.