President Alar Karis says that Estonia will stand with Ukraine, despite the deteriorating situation with regard to that country's security and integrity.
The president makes his remarks in a speech he made in Kyiv Tuesday, where he met his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a day after Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, following a highly-choreographed, theatrical "appeal" from ministers and officials to do so, announced that he and Russia "recognized" the "independence" of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine.
Multiple sources state that Russian Federation "peacekeeping" forces have already started crossing the Ukraine-Russia border into those two regions.
President Karis' statement made in Kyiv follows in its entirety.
We stand united with Ukraine, we will not walk away, we will continue to support you in every possible way.
I praise the Ukrainian leaders, who despite constant provocation, remain calm and express a willingness to solve this conflict peacefully. Russia must end the intolerable provocation, stop fueling the conflict, which has already been ongoing for eight years. Moscow should immediately and unconditionally withdraw its forces from Ukraine's territory and its immediate vicinity. We strongly condemn all military and hybrid actions against Ukraine. We regret that despite diplomatic efforts, there are no signs of willingness to de-escalate, quite the opposite, the build-up of Russian forces continues, including in Belarus.
I align myself with everyone who wish we would have a way to secure peace through the force of diplomacy and dialogue.
Indeed, this is a decisive moment in the European history. President Putin will answer to future generations for his violent actions, and also we, European and western leaders, have the responsibility to step up to our values, our commitment to Europe united and at peace. We regret every single life lost.
It is our duty to protect our common values and the democracy we all helped to build. A threat to Ukraine is a threat to the security of Europe.
The minimum we can do is to step up our practical support to Ukraine, which Estonia has done and will continue to do. In the EU, we will deliver on a massive package of sanctions and do so swiftly and decisively. But most importantly we must keep the door to EU and NATO open for Ukraine and we must have concrete next steps for further cooperation and integration.
We know you will continue to value democracy and remain on the path of reforms. Eventually we will welcome you as the member of the EU; you belong in Europe.
We support Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We remain fully committed to the policy of non-recognition of illegal annexation of Ukraine´s territories. Ukraine has a right to defend its borders and independence and we continue helping Ukraine to build its military capabilities to stand against the aggression.
President Karis and President Zelensky gave a press conference earlier on Tuesday, which can be viewed below (in English and Ukrainian).
Editor: Andrew Whyte