Estonian president: Too risky to impose no-fly zone over Ukraine

Independence Day Parade 2022.
Independence Day Parade 2022. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Ukraine should be given additional lethal weapons but imposing a no-fly zone over the country is too risky, Estonian President Alar Karis said on Friday while on an official visit to Moldova and Romania.

Despite the images of death and destruction coming out of the besieged seaside city of Mariupol, Karis believes a no-fly zone is not on the table despite the Riigikogu issuing a statement of support earlier this week.

"It was easy for the Riigikogu to make such a decision, but in the end the government is responsible for such decisions. At the moment, I have a feeling that the no-fly zone would escalate, and we do not know what the results will be. This step must be thought through. Instead, support Ukraine with Javelins and bulletproof vests so that they can continue to resist," Karis told ERR in a telephone interview.

"Fortunately, it can be seen that the Russians have not made much progress in recent days, although things have become criminal: civilians are being shot en masse and also the case of the theater where children were inside. All of this is absolutely horrifying," the president said.

At the same time, Karis refused to call President Vladimir Putin a war criminal as U.S. President Joe Biden has done saying this is a legal term.

"First the war must end, then you look at the type of criminal he is. The focus should be on ending the war and then those who triggered the war will be punished," he said.

Discussing western leaders who continue to communicate with Putin, such as French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Karis said one of the objectives is to keep a line of communication open even if nothing is achieved as Russia is playing games.

Kyiv said he has no future plans to visit Kyiv, as leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia did earlier this week. "It is more important to help Ukraine militarily and to provide humanitarian aid," he said.

Showing solidarity with Moldova

The president is visiting Moldova to show support for the country's reforms and goal to join the European Union.

"Estonia has supported Moldova with millions for years. Now we have given €100,000 euros, 10 buses and 25,000 doses of vaccine," said Karis.

Karis also consulted on Moldova's EU accession process.

"I also said the process of European Union accession is long, and that Estonia started earlier than the other Baltic states, but we still accepted us together. This is also likely the case in their region," said Karis.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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