Estonian president on Ukraine visit: Children are playing in the rubble

President Alar Karis' interview with ETV's
President Alar Karis' interview with ETV's "Ringvaade" on Thursday. April 14, 2022. Source: ERR

Estonian President Alar Karis was in Kyiv on Wednesday, where he also visited other cities and areas surrounding the Ukrainian capital. What he saw there is not something anyone wants to see, Karis told ETV's "Ringvaade" in an interview upon his return Thursday.

One of the objectives of his and his Baltic and Polish counterparts' visit this week was to bear witness to the atrocities of war that Russia has committed in the cities surrounding Kyiv, Karis said.

"What we saw there was truly awful: buildings are destroyed, and some people are still trying to live in them — buildings in danger of collapse," he described. "People are still searching for dead bodies in the buildings as children play in the rubble. This was a scene that was not something anyone wants to see."

Karis said that the purpose of their meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday was to find out exactly what military and humanitarian aid Ukraine needs in order to end the war quickly.

"Diplomacy hasn't led to very much progress here," the Estonian president stressed. "Thus the opportunity remains to support Ukraine to ensure it can bring a swift end to this war."

He said that while Estonia has already provided Ukraine with both military and humanitarian aid, there is still more Estonia can do. Ukrainian authorities are currently compiling a list of various machinery needed to clean up the rubble, for example. "Perhaps Estonia can send corresponding equipment there as well," he added.

Prior to this week's visit, Karis had most recently visited Kyiv on February 22, just two days before Russia launched its current phase of attacks on Ukraine. He noted that Zelenskyy had seemed more worried then than he did now.

"No one knew what was going to happen, or how, or where, because at the time Zelenskyy never guessed that this war would escalate to the point of reaching the outskirts of Kyiv," the Estonian president said, adding that his Ukrainian counterpart has gotten a major boost from the support of so many other countries as well.

Karis said that while the people of Ukraine had previously been prepared to discuss possible concessions in weapons negotiations, now, after seeing what has taken place in the cities surrounding Kyiv, they won't even hear of it.

Also discussed at Wednesday's meeting of presidents were grain exports from Ukraine to Africa, as not all Ukrainian ports are currently under Ukrainian control anymore. According to Karis, Ukraine has grain, but is unable to export it. A proposal was made at the meeting to open Polish, Lithuanian and Latvian ports, which would allow Ukraine to transport grain out by rail. Karis said that this will be a matter for further deliberations.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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