Russia appears to have taken the direction of dragging out its war in Ukraine in order to foster willingness in Western countries and Ukraine alike for both talks and concessions, former Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid said in an appearance on Vikerraadio's "Välistund" on Monday.
"Russia's interest is to drag out this conflict, to try to get us to resign to the idea that this is the normal state of affairs, and then hope that at some point the people of Ukraine will have had enough and will say it's time to head into negotiations and forget Crimea," Kaljulaid said. "Or that Ukraine will be forced by the West to hold these negotiations."
Western countries could use the reduction of support to Ukraine as a coercive measure to pressure Ukraine into negotiations, she added.
The former president nonetheless stressed that while there have been calls for a peace in Ukraine, no such peace rhetoric has been heard among decision-makers, or even economic leaders.
"Rather the contrary," she said. "The more the European economy invests in a future, such as in future energy, that doesn't take Russia into consideration — the moment expenditures on the new are as great as on the old, no one will hold onto the old anymore, and I believe this confidence has grown, not diminished."
Kaljulaid also said that the clearer countries' political message is, the faster businesses' economic reorientation and adaptation will be, in terms of severing Russian tias.
"But Russia will certainly do everything in its power to ensure that all of the power at their disposal — both useful idiots as well as those they bankroll — talk [peace]," she acknowledged. "But I certainly haven't seen this influence decision-makers in any direction somehow."
She said that you can see a very clear trend that following the initial shock this spring, Estonia and likeminded countries' views on Ukraine are increasingly solidifying in the minds of Western decision-makers.
Risk exists of discontent being exploited
That nonetheless doesn't mean that Russia won't do everything possible to, for examples, further encourage protests against price increases, or even incite them to violence, Kaljulaid continued.
"In other words, all such demonstrations, all such opportunities will be exploited to the fullest, and if they manage to somehow magnify even just some of these, even make them more violent, then of course there could be nothing better for Russia," she said. "So stay vigilant, people!"
At the same time, in addition to Sweden and Finland's accession to NATO and Ukraine being invited to join the EU, Russian leader Vladimir Putin's policies have also spurred Europe to more rapidly complete its green transition, as it's been understood that there is no alternative to it, she highlighted.
The former Estonian president indirectly criticized universal support measures bring implemented by various countries in lieu of helping those who truly need it this winter.
"Instead of using targeted support measures, they're using universal ones, which means that someone somewhere is in very much and actual trouble, and that creates the risk that people will become restless, and such unrest is very easy to exploit," she warned.
Kaljulaid cited the yellow vest movement in France, which began as protests against fuel prices, as an example.
"Such things can come up, and if there are a lot of them, it's possible to start connecting the dots," she said. "But I very much want to hope that the people of Europe understand that in order to triumph over evil, we need economic adaptation. But, once again, societies must be capable of helping those who are truly weaker."
In Estonia, for example, there are people living in old apartment buldings or poorly insulated houses in the countryside who are using electricity to heat their homes, the former president highlighted, and such people should be helped first and foremost instead of spreading general support schemes around.
"That is the key to preventing the breaking of the will of the peoples of Europe," she emphasized. "Redistribution mechanisms must be what hold the people together!"
The former head of state also said that China is paying close attention to how Western countries are reacting to Russian aggression in order to gauge possible reactions to its own possible future activity.
Editor: Aili Vahtla