President to new ambassador: Russia bears a heavy burden on its conscience
Russia's war against Ukraine is a blatant violation of international law, while the thousands people who have already lost their lives in the conflict, the millions of people whose homes it has forced to flee and the dozens upon dozens of destroyed cities will continue to weigh heavily on Russia's conscience, President Alar Karis says.
The President made his remarks on the occasion of the new Russian ambassador to Estonia, Vladimir Lipajev, presenting his credentials to the Estonian head of state on Tuesday.
President Karis said: "Russia must immediately cease the hostilities; thousands of Ukrainians, as well as Russians, have been killed in the course of the war."
"Russia must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," the president added, according to a press release from his office.
President Karis noted that the timing had been particularly poignant given that Tuesday marks the 18th anniversary of Estonia joining NATO, precisely in pursuit of strengthened security and protection from aggression.
Other states ought to be able to join the NATO alliance if they wish to, President Karis noted, saying: "Every nation has the right to choose its own path, as does Ukraine."
President Karis also told Ambassador Lipajev, who was appointed ambassador less than two weeks before the invasion began on February 24, that Russia had initiated a war in Europe in the 21st century which would have unprecedented consequences for the Russian people for years to come.
"Aggression brings decades-long consequences, affecting several generations," he said.
The developments also meant that relations with Russia could not progress at this stage, President Karis added.
He said: "It is not possible to cooperate with the aggressor, and neither the EU nor NATO will do so."
"By attacking Ukraine, Russia found itself in international isolation," he said, noting that Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, had a responsibility to ensure peace and not to start conflicts.
The EU, NATO and other western allies will remain both united and decisive in this security crisis, will continue to support Ukraine and to initiate additional sanctions and will strengthen NATO's defensive capabilities, while those responsible for war crimes will ultimately be brought to justice, the resident went on.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte