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West making little headway in Ukraine crisis: Lithuania FM

24 february 2015, 15:00

 Despite pressure from sanctions and a high-level Franco-German mediation, the conflict in east Ukraine shows little sign of ending, Lithuania's foreign minister said Monday, AFP reports

"Despite all these efforts, the situation has almost not changed," Linas Linkevicius told AFP in an interview. "We do not see any effect."

Linkevicius, whose country is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, attended a special debate at UN headquarters on maintaining international peace and security.

The foreign minister warned the 15-member Security Council that Russia was flouting the latest ceasefire deal and that the conflict could expand, citing a weekend attack in Kharkiv.

"We are afraid that this will not stop," Linkevicius told AFP.

A vocal supporter of Ukraine, Lithuania is next month celebrating its 25th anniversary of independence from the former Soviet Union amid much trepidation about Russia's next move.

"It's not about us today, but tomorrow it could be about us if we neglect what is happening now," said the foreign minister who was scheduled to have talks with US administration officials.

Linkevicius lamented what he said was a lack of a strong response from the West to the Ukraine crisis, despite repeated claims that Moscow is backing the separatist rebels in east Ukraine.

"What else should happen in order to cross the line? These lines were crossed by tanks many times - all our red lines, just crossed," the foreign minister said.

He questioned European resolve to ramp up sanctions on Moscow over violations to the latest ceasefire deal reached between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.

The foreign ministers of those countries are to meet in Paris on Tuesday to discuss the ceasefire as Ukraine accused Moscow of massing troops near the key city of Mariupol.

The latest ceasefire was agreed by President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko following marathon talks with France's Francois Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany in the Belarussian capital of Minsk.

Lithuania and its Baltic neighbors Estonia and Latvia are concerned about possible attempts by Russia to stoke conflict among their ethnic Russian minorities, the foreign minister said.

While ethnic Russians represent less than 7 percent of Lithuania's population, Estonia and Latvia have larger Russian minorities who could be more vulnerable to manipulation, he said.

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