Karis: Yet again, President Putin has chosen the path of war

President Alar Karis and Estonian and Ukrainian flags flying in solidarity on Independence Day 2022.
President Alar Karis and Estonian and Ukrainian flags flying in solidarity on Independence Day 2022. Source: Office of the President.

The absurd excuses of Russia's leadership to attack Ukraine are false, groundless and criminal, President Alar Karis said in a statement on Thursday morning. He also addressed Estonians, Ukrainians and Russians.

Yet again, President Putin has chosen the path of war.

I am deeply shocked and disappointed. Moscow has demonstrated utter carelessness towards the lives of the Ukrainian people, as well as Russia's own citizens.

Our thoughts are with Ukraine.

The absurd excuses of Russia's leadership to attack Ukraine are false, groundless and criminal. They have been dreamed up so that President Putin can justify aggression against a nation that has never threatened Russia. This is how the Soviet Union attacked Finland in 1939, Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968. Russia, the legal successor of the Soviet Union, is taking its cue from those attacks by initiating large-scale hostilities against Ukraine in 2022. Similarly to how Moscow attacked Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine already in 2014.

Now we know definitively that Russia cannot tolerate a Ukrainian state which is democratic, independent in building a better future for itself, and belongs in Europe. We also know the reason: Russia is afraid of such a nation. Afraid of its neighbors' independence to choose their own paths and their own allies. It is because of this fear that Russia decided to engage in a new war and attacked Ukraine.

Today, I wish to speak to the people of Estonia, and the Ukrainian, as well as the Russian people.

Dear Estonian people. I know that many of us are asking with some trepidation – could such events occur in Estonia? This worry, or even fear is understandable. But the answer to these questions is a resounding 'no'. Estonia is a member of NATO and the European Union, we are an inseparable part of the Euro-Atlantic family. We have strong and united Allies. The Estonian state and Estonian defense are solid. The events happening in Ukraine will no doubt affect us but there is no direct military threat to Estonia. However, we must, for example, be prepared for cyberattacks, as well as to receive refugees.

Dear friends in Ukraine. As your President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: In the 21st century, there are no more wars that only happen to strangers. Russia's renewed offensive is a declaration of war to all democratic nations and to the existing security order. By defending their own independence and freedom, Ukraine is fighting for all of Europe. You are not alone. We will help you with all means available to us. Our goal is to stop the aggressor and to make him retreat. Ukraine, we stand with you. And as you will not tire nor break, neither will we.

I am struck by sadness and concern when my thoughts go to the Russian people. The war that Russia's leadership has initiated against Ukraine will bring much pain and mourning to many Russian families, from the Far East to Kaliningrad. I am sure that you did not want this war. Unfortunately, this is not much of a consolation when we think of all the potential victims of this conflict. As the President of Estonia, I can assure you that neither Estonia nor any other neighbor of Russia is a threat to it. On the contrary, we would like to see friendly relations between our countries. I deeply regret that Russia's leaders do not share this wish.

Now that the masks have fallen, the response of democratic nations can only be: to stop Russia. This means even more forceful sanctions – both political and economic – against the aggressor and all-encompassing support to Ukraine, including giving a more concrete perspective for Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration.

I have no doubts that Russia's decision to choose war will only increase the unity and solidarity between the member states of the European Union and NATO Allies. We will act together, remain united and coordinate closely.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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