Crimea may turn into 'frozen conflict': Lithuania

3rd March 2014, Comments 0 comments

Russia's tightened grip on Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea may turn into a "frozen conflict", the Lithuanian president warned on Monday.

"A huge risk remains that a new frozen conflict will emerge in the world, and it is Crimea," President Dalia Grybauskaite told reporters in Vilnius as Ukraine said Russian troops were flowing into Crimea.

The term frozen conflict describes an unresolved territorial dispute in which armed aggression has subsided.

Most recently, a conflict of this type emerged in 2008 when Russia staged a military takeover of two Georgian separatist regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The first republic to break free from the Soviet Union in 1990, EU and NATO member Lithuania has rocky ties with Moscow and is jittery about Russian military moves.

The small Baltic state has repeatedly accused Russia of seeking to exploit so-called frozen conflicts in Georgia and Moldova, where Russia has strong ties with separatist movements.

The crisis "may have serious consequences for the security of the whole region", Grybauskaite warned late Sunday, but said "the issue of sanctions (against Russia) is still premature."

Grybauskaite, the European Union's former budget chief, also spoke to British Prime Minister David Cameron and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski over the weekend and was due to speak with US Vice President Joe Biden via telephone later on Monday.

Currently a temporary UN Security Council member, Lithuania played a key role in efforts to seal a European Union association pact with Ukraine -- also a former Soviet state -- during its stint as EU president last year.

Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych's rejection of that deal in favour of an aid agreement with Russia sparked the protests that ultimately led to his ouster last month.


© 2014 AFP

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