Prime Minister: Biden, Macron statements on Ukraine 'worrying'

Kaja Kallas and Kalle Laanet at Thursday's regular government press conference.
Kaja Kallas and Kalle Laanet at Thursday's regular government press conference. Source: Johannes Voltri/ERR

Recent comments the presidents of the United States and France have made about the situation with Ukraine and Russia are worrying, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) says.

"These developments are very concerning and represent those things which we have been issuing warnings about," Kallas told ERR Thursday.

"Russia has amassed its forces, encircling Ukraine, escalated things and threatened war, and demanded also in relation to ourselves [in Estonia] that NATO return to its borders as they were in 1997," Kallas continued.

"It is also the case that now that our allies are seriously thinking about what Russia has proposed. In my opinion this is dangerous as Russia demands things which it has never before had, as the allies are sending these types of signals. This is a worry."

"Up until now, NATO's unity has held together very well," the prime minister added, noting that avoiding any conflict is admirable, but not at any price, and certainly not when that price involves Russia extorting material gains of that which had not previously belonged to it, Kallas went on.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has rushed to clarify words uttered by the POTUS which seemed to state that a "minor incursion" into Ukraine by Russia would not necessarily meet with the same response as a larger one would.

Psaki said Wednesday that. "If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that's a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the U.S. and our allies," Politico reports.

French President Emmanuel Macron has called on EU member states to draw up proposals for a new security deal with Russia, which would involve "frank dialogue" with the Kremlin but which would be separate from those involving the U.S, Reuters reports.

Additionally, Germany, under new chancellor Olaf Scholz, has expressed its opposition to sending armaments to Ukraine.

Defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) said that the various competing aspects given the impression that relations with Russia can be done in a way that achieves more in deescalating the situation.

"In my opinion, most important is that so long as these activities are targeted at the preservation of Europe's security architecture, then these are all welcome activities. However, when this leads to alterations in Europe's security architecture, then this can only serve to make us anxious," Laanet continued.

On Macron's calls for separate dialogue, Laanet said that Estonia's position has always been such that the EU and NATO must not be competitors, but rather must cooperate powerfully to strengthen security.

As to 122mm howitzers which Estonia hoped to send to Ukraine to aid in its defensive capabilities, Laanet said that he felt Germany would block the deal, based on its actions so far.

As the country of origin of the howitzers, Estonian would need to obtain German permission to provide Ukraine with the armaments.

Similar permission from the U.S. to send weapons made in that country to Ukraine has been granted.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined NATO in 2004, the same year that all three countries became EU member states. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined in 1999, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004, followed by Albania and Croatia in 2009, Montenegro in 2017 and North Macedonia in 2020.

Ukraine, along with Georgia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, are aspiring NATO member states recognized as such by the alliance, while Russia has demanded they not join.

The U.K. has started supplying Ukraine with short-range anti-tank weapons, via airlift, some of the rationale for which Britain's defense minister, Ben Wallace, explained in this article published by the U.K. government.

A little over a week ago, NATO member states had appeared to be reading from the same hymnal on Russia and Ukraine.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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