Prime minister: United western stance has been negative surprise for Russia
The united front presented by western states towards Russia in the wake of its military build-up on its border with Ukraine has been an unpleasant surprise for that country, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) says.
Appearing on ETV foreign affairs show "Välisilm" Monday evening, Kallas said that: "If the Kremlin compares the line taken by [French President Emmanuel] Macron or [German Chancellor Olaf] Scholz, or NATO as a whole, I think they will find these have been the same."
"This has been a negative surprise for Russia because it is in Russia's interest that we we are divided, that everyone has their own opinion, where confusion reigns," Kallas continued.
"Putin does not believe in multilateralism, where you have an organization with different voices but agreeing on something, so the negative surprise has been that the messages have been very coherent and a lot of ground has been covered," the prime minister went on.
The tactics Russia has been using are a well-known hangover from the Russian Federation's predecessor state, the Soviet Union, whereby first outrageous demands are made to the maximum extent possible, followed by ultimatums, military threats and then not having to budge an inch, since there will always be leaders in the west keen to appease, at least early on in the process, Kallas said.
However, Kallas said: "It must be borne in mind at all times that if when Russia seems to be threatening Ukraine, while at the same time making demands on the European security architecture, no concessions should be made,."
Kallas added that there have been so far no signs of disagreement at EU member state-level on Russia.
She said: "We have had very different tactics, but the messages have been consistent."
Consistent messages must remain both at EU and NATO level, the prime minister added, while at the same time some leaders have been looking through the prism of a democratic state, Kallas said, assuming that Putin is subject to an electorate who would punish him at the polls when mistakes were made – whereas this is not the case in a totalitarian state.
As to Ukraine itself, Kallas said the leaders of all three Baltic States would like to visit that country, adding that Ukraine's president has had a very tight schedule and so that has not yet been viable.
Of lessons learned from the situation, the importance of clear communication with allies was one, while rethinking Estonia's domestic defense after 30 years of independence was another, Kallas said.
Complacency may have set in with some younger people who may take that independence for granted, so recent events have been a wake-up call, the prime minister added.
Ultimately NATO has not trapped Russia, Kallas said; the situation is entirely of Russia's own making, one through which Putin has been able to attract more attention to himself and seem more relevant given the number of western leaders who have gone to Moscow for talks already.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte