Thursday is Ukrainian Independence Day, and to mark the occasion, a statement by Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) were issued together with a new music video of Musamari Chamber Choir performing Ukrainian folk song "Quiet Water" ("Тиха вода").
This year's celebration of Ukraine's Independence Day is taking place in unprecedentedly difficult circumstances, but Ukrainians' fierce defensive spirit and courage in standing up for their country's independence gives everyone the motivation to continue supporting Ukraine until Russia loses its war and Ukraine regains its occupied territories, Kallas said according to a government press release.
Since the launch of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24 — Estonia's own Independence Day — tens of thousands of refugees from Ukraine have arrived in Estonia, having been forced to flee the war.
"We are helping Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in Estonia as well as continuing to stand for Ukrainian freedom by providing them with the weapons, training and humanitarian aid they need to defend their country, Kallas said, adding that Estonia's support for Ukraine is unwavering.
"A few days ago, the government approved yet another package of military support for Ukraine," the prime minister said. "We are providing Ukraine with more armaments, primarily mortars and anti-tank weapons. We will also support the training of the Armed Forces of Ukraine initiated by the U.K., and will send another field hospital to Ukraine in cooperation with Germany."
Kallas also called on other countries to keep up their own military support for Ukraine, and stressed that Estonia would continue its efforts to help Ukraine on the international arena as well.
"Every country has the right to make their own decisions about their society and security," she said. "We support Ukraine on their path to the EU. It's important that Ukraine comes out of the war stronger than before. That's why we're also offering Ukraine assistance with carrying out the reforms needed to join the EU."
Russia will have to pay for its actions, the Estonian prime minister underscored. "We must ensure that the perpetrators of crimes of aggression are held internationally accountable and that the evidence is preserved," she said.
The prime minister also urged the EU to move forward with the next, even more robust sanctions package against Russia.
"In doing so, it's important that we limit Russian citizens' opportunities for travel in Europe," she said. "In a situation where people in Ukraine are being tortured, murdered and terrorized, Russian citizens should not be enjoying tourist trips to Europe. After all, tourism is a privilege, not a right."
Choir sings on Stenbock balcony
Directed by Sander Allikmäe, a new music video released in honor of Ukraine's Independence Day features Musamari Chamber Choir, under the direction of Ode Pürg, performing Ukrainian folk song "Quiet Water" on the balcony of Stenbock House, the seat of the Estonian government.
Since 2004, August 23 has been celebrated in Ukraine as the Day of the National Flag.
August 24 is Ukrainian Independence Day, marking the reestablishment of Ukraine with the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on August 24, 1991.
Editor: Aili Vahtla