Foreign and defense ministers: It is important to trust Ukrainians' choices
Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) and Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) said on the "Ukraina stuudio" talk show that the important thing is to put pressure on Russia, supply Ukraine with arms and trust the latter's choices.
Reinsalu said, when commenting on Russian troops' missile attack on the Port of Odessa immediately following the grain shipments agreement, that everyone knows Russia does not honor the principles of international law. "The fact they might violate it at any time was brought into sharp contrast here," he said.
Pevkur said it is clear Russia never sits down at the negotiating table without an agenda of its own and that it needs grain exports too. "What happened is a good demonstration that the Russian side always does what it does even before the ink is dry -- it breaks the agreement. Looking at it from the practical side, we are dealing with a framework agreement for the implementation of which all international insurance companies and carriers will need assurances no ship will be blown up upon entering the harbor. The practical side of it is more complicated than what's on paper," he said.
Ukraine has been successful in the south of the country, while Western weapons for Ukraine are not the only reason Russia wants to sit down, Pevkur suggested. "There have been signals that the counteroffensive has begun in the south, initially encouraging news has come out of the Kherson region. But I am not sure the fact HIMARS have arrived in Ukraine is the only reason. Russia needs those grain exports," the defense minister said.
Urmas Reinsalu said that the grain agreement poses a potential threat for Europe. "It facilitates pseudo-hopes on the Western side of a possible diplomatic result and achieving peace. It is definitely one benefit Russia is after with these talks, to shake up Western partners' ideas of how best to help Ukraine. We are convinced it requires military aid for Ukraine and tougher sanctions for Russia to ensure Ukraine will win this war," he said.
The foreign minister added that another benefit-oriented rhetoric has surfaced. "Unfortunately, we can see various Western politicians using that rhetoric and it could facilitate, come as the first sign that the agreement could pave the way to peace in Ukraine. I had a very serious conversation about that with my Ukrainian colleague on Friday," Reinsalu said.
Pevkur said that Russia only has a single agenda for these talks and that Ukrainians have to be trusted. "The Ukrainians need to be clear about whether they want to sit down or not. As things stand, Zelenskyy has been clear in that there will not be talks and that Ukraine is whole."
The Hungarian foreign minister's Russia visit shows that Hungary is playing its own game next to Europe. "I believe the EU has enough levers with which to put pressure on Hungary. But we need to realize that messages out of Hungary are precisely what Russia and Putin are after. They want the West to be divided, to argue over the right way to resolve the conflict, and perhaps to see whether someone else is willing to sit down with them. But it amounts to giving three drops of blood to the devil. It is clear Ukraine will not be able to restore its territorial integrity this way," Pevkur suggested.
Reinsalu said that the goal needs to be to end the war as quickly as possible that requires strong pressure on Russia. "It is a moral goal, makes economic sense and is also a national security goal. Estonia feels that these steps do not help those goals," he offered.
Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!
Editor: Marcus Turovski