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Send military help to Ukraine, sanction Russia harshly, east EU leaders tell Scholz

Randy Mancini 23 Feb 26
German Chancellor Scholz meets Polish PM Morawiecki and Lithuanian President Nauseda, in Berlin
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda shake hands as they meet to discuss sanctions on Russia, in Berlin, Germany, February 26, 2022. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

February 26, 2022

By Alicja Ptak and Andrius Sytas

WARSAW/VILNIUS (Reuters) – Leaders from Poland and Lithuania urged the European Union on Saturday to go further in their support for Ukraine in the face of a Russian invasion, as they headed into a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said all sanctions against Russia should be on the table, including shutting the Nord Stream pipelines that supply Russian gas to Europe and halting its access to the SWIFT global payments system.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda also said it was important that Ukraine was provided with “real military help.”

Russian forces pounded Ukrainian cities with artillery and cruise missiles on Saturday for a third day running but a defiant President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the capital Kyiv remained in Ukrainian hands.

Poland and Lithuania both share borders with Russia and Belarus, while Poland also borders Ukraine.

“I came to Berlin to shake the conscience of Germany so that they would finally decide on truly harsh sanctions that will influence the Kremlin’s decisions,” Morawiecki told reporters outside Scholz’s office.

“We need to shut down Nord Stream 1 and 2, we need to cut reliance on raw materials, cut off Russian financial institutions from capital markets, confiscate assets of oligarchs, close off SWIFT for Russia… All sanctions against Russia should be on the table.”

Speaking alongside Morawiecki, Nauseda said he would ask Scholz to support giving Ukraine the status of a EU candidate country, and sending it significant military help.

“I talked to Zelenskiy on the way here, and he said that European perspective would be a large motivation to Ukrainians to fight for their and their children future,” said Nauseda.

“And it is important to provide real military help to Ukraine now. This is most important … we need a quick decision,” he added.

(Reporting by Alicja Ptak in Warsaw and Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; Editing by Michael Kahn and Mark Potter)