President Kersti Kaljulaid has said the Russian Federation presents a danger to its neighbors, not because it wants to expand its empire, but instead because it realizes its time is running short.
Kaljulaid said in an interview with ERR on Monday: "The window of opportunity is closing for Russia; they are considered by top powers as a regional threat for Europeans that countries should deal with by themselves. And this is where the danger lies, which we are always trying to explain to our allies in the west. It is the reason why Russia is dangerous - especially now, as it sees its window closing."
The president added: "Russia is looking for clever ways to ruin our unity, based on common values, [trying to] attract one of us to its side, even with economical reprecussions, to widen cracks in our ranks. This does not cost much - interference in elections requires some mechanisms, but it is far cheaper in essence than physical interference."
Kaljulaid added: "Russia is doing all of this, seeing their own window now closing, and now there is the question of to what lengths they are willing to go to use that opportunity before it closes for good."
Kaljulaid compared Russia's situation with that of China, which has had decades to grow and strengthen its international position. The president said the idea of Russia wishing to expand their empire represents "outdated thinking".
She explained that: "It is outdated thinking for one simple reason: Developing and maintaining an empire comes at a cost. And if you are very weak economically, especially weak demographically, then [you] are just not able to bear such costs yourself."
Kaljulaid also referred to the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the ongoing insurgency war in eastern Ukraine, saying that it had been expected that Russia would occupy all of Ukraine, but it had not done so.
Additionally, she also brought attention to how Russia was able to turn Ukrainians against their own people in that country. "I think Russians have understood now that the Ukrainian people, who would be a natural ally, do not want to be one today, and that is being avoided while trying to minimize [Russia's] spending."
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste, Andrew Whyte