Baltic, German FMs condemn Russian aggression in Ukraine
Russia must "immediately cease its aggression, withdraw its troops from Ukraine and fully comply with international law", the Baltic and German foreign ministers said in a joint statement after a meeting in Latvia on Wednesday.
German Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock is on a multi-day visit to the Baltics and met with the ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in Riga. She will visit Estonia today and Lithuania on Friday.
"We reiterate our call on Russia to immediately cease its aggression, withdraw its troops from the whole territory of Ukraine and to fully comply with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, and to uphold human rights. We reaffirm our unwavering support to Ukraine´s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders," the ministers said in a joint statement.
They also welcomed the ICC investigation into alleged war crimes and said all perpetrators have to be brought to justice.
The ministers condemned Russia's suppression of free speech, repression of peaceful protesters and called for the immediate release of Russian human rights defenders and peace activists, such as Vladimir Kara-Murza.
Baerbock: We have much to learn from the Baltics in terms of defense
Before departing on her trip, Baerbock told the German media the country has much to learn from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania when it comes to defense.
Baerbock said the Baltics have been monitoring events in Russia with great attention and concern for years and have drawn the necessary conclusions. She listed, next to defense contributions, investments in energy security, IT infrastructure and media resilience to hostile propaganda.
"I want to listen to their experience and point of view attentively," Baerbock told the German media before leaving on the visit.
Baerbock: One has to be visible on the ground
The minister also emphasized that it is safe to visit the Baltics and took a stroll through Riga's Old Town to prove it to German audiences.
Last week ERR reported German tour operators had cut the region out of its packages.
Speaking at the press conference, the German minister said: "We don't have time for any sightseeing, because this does not belong to the agenda of the foreign ministry, but we will at least take a short walk through the heart of the old part of the town.
"Let me be very clear here now. Security is always a question of trust. One has to be visible on the ground. I address myself to the German listeners, the German audience, and hope there are quite a few of them here. The Baltic states are a beautiful place where you can spend your holidays over pentecost, over the summer season, it is always a worthwhile visit."
The ministers' press conference can be watched below.
Foreign Ministers @eliimets , @edgarsrinkevics , @GLandsbergis & @ABaerbock will meet in Riga to discuss Russia's war in #Ukraine, further sanctions on Russia & Belarus, #RuleOfLaw, Western Balkans & #EU-China relations.— Estonian MFA | #StandWithUkraine (@MFAestonia) April 20, 2022
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Editor: Helen Wright