President: Western Europe should follow Estonia's lead in Czech solidarity

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President Kersti Kaljulaid with host Peeter Kaldre on Monday's edition of 'Välisilm'. Source: ERR

President Kersti Kaljulaid says she hopes other European countries will follow the lead of Estonia in expelling Russian diplomats in solidarity with the Czech Republic. Estonia ejected one Russian diplomat last Friday, while the Czech Republic has expelled dozens from its soil, in relation to a 2014 explosion at an ammunition dump, thought to be the work of Russian agents.

Latvia and Lithuania also sent away one Russian diplomat each last Friday, and other EU and NATO states, such as Romania, have since done the same.

Talking to ETV foreign affairs show "Välissilm" Monday night, the president said that: "This is precisely because Russia's attacks on individual EU or NATO countries are not uncommon at all. We have all seen cyber incidents, chemical incident, and now the Czechs have this incident.

The explosion at the ammunition depot in the town of Vrbetice, in the southeast of the country and close to the border with Slovakia, killed two, and is now thought to be linked to the same network responsible for the March 2018 poisoning of Russian citizens the Skripals, a father and daughter who were resident in Salisbury, England, where the attack took place. A receptacle discarded in a public trash can in Salisbury, thought to contain Novichok, was later picked up and handled by a woman passer-by. The woman later died. Sergei Skripal is a Russian dissident and former Russian military intelligence official, who settled in the U.K. following a spy swap.

Kaljulaid continued on "Välisilm" that Russia was following a "divide and conquer" strategy within Europe.

"We can see here Russia's desire to each other, to divide us, to demonstrate what they are able to do, and to show us that we can do nothing more than be once again deeply resentful," the president said.

Kaljulaid noted that the Baltic States in particular have been leaders in imposing punitive measures in respect of Russia, and consequently is awaiting western European nations to follow this lead and to show solidarity with the Czech Republic.

The Czech Republic has expelled dozens of Russian diplomatic staff in recent days, while Moscow has responded in kind.

The "Välisilm" segment (in Estonian) is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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