Baltic prime ministers promise to continue supporting Ukraine
The Baltic states will continue to send military aid to Ukraine, and support the sending of fighter jets, the prime ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania said at a meeting in Tallinn on Friday.
Estonia is leading the Baltic cooperation formats this year and the trio discussed Ukraine, joint infrastructure projects, energy security and strengthening NATO's defense capabilities at the first prime ministers' meeting
"Our goal for the NATO Vilnius summit in July is clear. NATO's regional plans must be approved. NATO's deterrence and defense posture at the eastern flank should be strengthened. In this changed security situation, we also must review the agreements for NATO's defense investment. Two percent for defense expenditure is no longer sufficient — it's the minimum," said Kallas.
The prime ministers do not support the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) plan to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the Paris games in 2024.
Latvia has suggested boycotting the event while Estonia and Lithuania hope it will not be necessary.
Prime Minister of Lithuania Ingrida Šimonyte said: "Our interest is that Russian and Belarusian sportsmen would not fake it that they are under a neutral flag. Because there is no neutrality in the current world. Boycotting the Olympics is one decision, but it may not be as impressive as keeping Russian and Belarusian sportsmen out of the games altogether. So I think this is the preferred option."
Kallas pointed out that a third of Russian athletes at the last Olympics in Beijing had been members of the Russian army. She said Ukrainians should not have to meet them on the field.
The EU is discussing its next sanctions package and the Baltic states want existing loopholes to be closed.
Latvian Prime Minister Krišjanis Karinš said: "If you look at the statistics, you can see countries such as Kazakhstan, countries such as Armenia, countries such as Turkey, where certain kinds of trade are going up very high, disproportionate to what it has done in the past and it seems traders are finding ways to legally trade goods with, say, with Turkey, with Kazakhstan, with Armenia which are then resent to Russia because these countries are not adhering to the sanctions regime."
Asked by ERR if the Baltic states will put pressure on allies to send fighter jets to Ukraine, the prime ministers said Kyiv must receive all the aid it needs to defeat Russia. Allies' hesitation means the loss of lives, they emphasized.
Karins said Latvia does not have any jets to send to Ukraine, but added the country has already sent the majority of its airforce's helicopters to Kyiv.
Watch the press conference below.
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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright