Estonian FM visits Ukraine, lays new kindergarten cornerstone in Zhytomyr

The cornerstone of a new Estonian-funded kindergarten in Ukraine's wartorn Zhytomyr Oblast was laid by Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) during a visit to the country on Tuesday.

Reinsalu, on his first foreign visit after becoming minister, also presented two fire trucks and equipment donated by volunteer firefighters in Rapla County.

Estonia has pledged to help rebuild rebuild public infrastructure Zhytomyr Oblast, which is approximately 100km west of Kyiv, and help women and children who have been subjected to violence. This year the kindergarten in Ovruch will be rebuilt.

"We will continue supporting Ukraine for as long as needed," he said, adding that Estonia wanted to provide assistance tailor-made to fit Ukraine's needs.

Reinsalu, who took office two weeks ago, said Ukraine was chosen as his first destination to show "respect for the strength and resolve of Ukrainians".

Urmas Reinsalu during his first foreign visit as minister in Zhytomyr Oblast, Ukraine. Source: Ministery of Foreign Affairs.

"Today, Ukraine has been defending its freedom, sovereignty and the values we all cherish for 160 days in the face of Russia's unjustified and brutal war," the minister said.

Reinsalu said the international community needs to work towards holding Russia accountable for its actions in Ukraine.

"We have been consistent in our efforts to isolate Russia internationally but this is no longer enough. It is our moral duty to hold war criminals and aggressors to account. The credibility of the rules-based order depends on it," he said in a statement.

Estonia and like-minded countries are preparing new proposals for imposing sanctions, including additional travel restrictions against Russia.

Since February 24, when Russia launched its full-scale invasion, Zhytomyr Oblast has been hit by at least 89 missile attacks targeting military facilities, critical infrastructure, and residential and industrial buildings.

Nearly 2,000 objects have been destroyed, and many more have been damaged, the Estonian Centre for International Development said in June.

So far, the Estonian state and public have sent almost €20 million worth of humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Estonia is also hosting more than 48,000 Ukrainians who are seeking safety — 3.7 percent of Estonia's population.

The government has also sent defense said worth almost €245 million – a third of Estonia's annual defense budget.

Reinsalu previously visited Ukraine in March with a delegation of ministers from the Baltic states.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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