Reinsalu: Russia's economic backbone must be broken

Urmas Reinsalu.
Urmas Reinsalu. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Estonia's main foreign policy goal is to support Ukraine and to contribute to Russia's defeat, newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said on Tuesday.

"Estonia's foreign policy goal, our number one, number two, number three most important goal, is that Russia must lose this war. For that to happen, economically and security-wise, Russia's backbone in the war with Ukraine must be broken with the help of the Western community," Reinsalu told Vikerraadio's "Uudis+" show.

The Isamaa MP said it is vital to keep Ukraine on the agenda during the summer months and to try and put more pressure on Russia.

During Reinsalu's last term as foreign minister in the Center/Isamaa/EKRE coalition (2019-2021), he took steps to strengthen Estonia's relationship with Hungary. But on Tuesday, he condemned the Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó's recent comments about blocking the next package of EU sanctions on Russia.

"[M]y message is that this is not a relevant line of thought. Peace will be achieved, not when the war ends, but when the war is ended. And the war will be ended when Russia's economic backbone is broken," he said.

The EU's current sanctions against Russia are not sufficient "because the war continues and people are dying in Ukraine", Reinsalu said.

The EU is currently discussing the seventh package of sanctions against Russia and Belarus.

LGBT+ rights, China policies

During Reinsalu's last term as foreign minister, Estonian embassies were not allowed to show support for LGBT+ causes, such as Pride parades. Asked about this policy, Reinsalu reiterated Ukraine is the focus of Estonia's foreign policy activities and that the issue is unrelated.

"My message is unified and clear: Estonia's foreign policy number one, number two, number three, number one hundred [goal] is currently the question of supporting Ukraine and supporting Russia's defeat. Ukraine's victory is our most important issue and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will focus on this issue during the months that I am minister. I will not deal with extraneous issues, and I treat this issue as a completely extraneous issue," he said.

"Estonian diplomats, Estonian embassies abroad must deal with supporting Ukraine. This is a task that I certainly expect and that Estonian diplomats have done so far. Extraneous topics are not relevant," he added.

Asked if Estonia would officially leave China's 17+1 cooperation platform as Lithuania has done and which Reinsalu has suggested in the past, he said he had no comments to make about the subject at the moment.

"If I have reason to comment, I will," he promised.

Reinsalu replaces acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Andres Sutt (Reform) and Eva-Maria Liimets (Center). He was sworn into office on Monday and will lead the ministry until March 2023.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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