Lithuanian foreign minister warns Putin watching NATO for weakness following children’s hospital bombing

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FIRST ON FOX – The deadly attack on a children’s hospital in Ukraine this week was a test for the NATO alliance, warned Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis as world leaders gathered in Washington, D.C.

“Attacking a children’s hospital in Kyiv during the week of the NATO summit here in Washington clearly sends a political message. He expects us to discuss, and most likely, not to find a way how to address this,” Landsbergis told Fox News Digital from the Lithuanian Embassy in Wasington, D.C.

The foreign minister said Russian President Vladimir Putin is banking on NATO not to respond due to its concerns that doing so will prompt further escalation between the West and Russia.

“That’s enough to send a message to Ukrainians that, look, your friends in the West cannot do much for you. Even your children, those who are suffering from cancer in a hospital, cannot be protected,” Landsbergis said.

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The foreign minister urged his colleagues in the NATO alliance to use this week to provide Ukraine with not only the military assistance it needs in the war, but to prove to Putin that the alliance is not backing down. 

The foreign minister’s comments come after Russia struck a children’s hospital in Kyiv on Monday, killing at least two and injuring some 50 people, though search and rescue efforts remain ongoing.

The images of sick children, some with hair missing from chemotherapy and radiation treatments, being held by caregivers with blood running down their faces and bodies, showed again the gruesome extent Putin will go to achieve his war aims. 

In a statement to the U.N. Security Council Tuesday, Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said that evidence suggested the children’s hospital was deliberately struck by a Kh-101 cruise missile while children were receiving treatment, including three open-heart surgeries that were underway at the time of the attack.  

Ukraine children's hospital evacuation

“There has to be a price on Putin’s escalation,” Landsbergis said. “You cannot just play on defense and expect the other side to somehow stop. Putin is clearly not planning to stop.”

“He just continues his escalation and that means that we have to meet him, or assist Ukrainians to meet him,” he added. 

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The U.S. has implemented bans on all U.S.-made missiles being used to strike targets in Russia, though an exception was granted for military targets near the Kharkiv border. Landsbergis and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg have urged all nations to abandon strike-based stipulations as the capability would enable Kyiv to hit airfields, arms depots and vessels off the coast of Ukraine.

The White House on Monday said that despite the repeated deadly attacks on Ukrainian civilians, there would be no changes to the U.S.’s policy, prompting a sense of growing frustration with Washington ahead of the summit. 

A source involved with the NATO talks confirmed that several allies, including the U.S., are unwilling to change their position when it comes to countering Putin, despite repeated urging from Ukraine and fellow NATO nations. 

Ukraine children's hospital

“This could definitely be an opportunity to push back, if the U.S. will allow additional targets to be targeted inside Russia. But so far, I don’t see any signs of any movement in that direction,” the source confirmed Tuesday. “Most likely we will just eat whatever is served by Russia.”

Washington’s refusal to heighten its response to Putin’s aggression also means that Ukraine is unlikely to see a concrete path to membership, despite reports suggesting that NATO’s communiqué will use targeted language like “irreversible” to describe Kyiv’s ability to join.

“The sense from the U.S. is that there is a 100 percent understanding that any real move closer to NATO for Ukraine is an escalation,” the source involved with the NATO talks confirmed. 

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