Vseviov: Talk of a 'time-frame' on Ukraine support is dangerous and wrong

Jonatan Vseviov appearing on Tuesday's edition of 'Esimene stuudio'.
Jonatan Vseviov appearing on Tuesday's edition of 'Esimene stuudio'. Source: ERR

Talk of a "window" of support for Ukraine, which could close at any certain point in the future, is harmful and very wrong, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary General Jonatan Vseviov says. At the same time, the recent Munich Security Conference demonstrated that Western unity is intact on Ukraine and its continued fight against the full-scale Russian invasion which started almost a year ago to the day.

Appearing on ETV politics show "Esimene stuudio" Tuesday, Vseviov said "I think this talk of a time window is damaging, and erroneous," in response to a question from host Johannes Tralla as to whether there had been any pressure from the U.S. on Ukraine, so that the latter would launch a counter-offensive against Russian forces within a certain time-frame and as a quid pro quo for support from Ukraine to remain at the same, high level it has been so far.

"Even if this statement is made in good faith, it has no basis. I can't see any way in any democratic country today to come out and state that now I'm the 'Chamberlain', who will try to buy stability for himself, sacrificing the freedom of another nation to satisfy the aggressor's appetite," Vseviov went on, referencing a British prime minister of the 1930s who has been the focus of Vseviov's ire in statements in the past.

"This feeling that there is some type of time-frame, after which we will start to tire, is not appropriate. This means it is not worth providing our aid [to Ukraine] in such short spurts either. We must be prepared for a marathon, keeping in mind our goal, which is to end the war as soon as possible," he added.

As for the recent Munich Security Conference, Vseviov said the messages which emerged were both favorable to Estonia and recapitulated the West's unity. "If there had been concern in the meantime that the West was getting fatigued, Munich confirmed the opposite," he said.

At the same time, Vseviov declined to comment on recent remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron, to the effect that the West should prepare for peace concurrently with supporting Ukraine, and at least consider a scenario whereby peace negotiators sat at the table with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As for the U.S., Vseviov, a former Estonian ambassador to Washington, noted that President Biden's snap visit to Kyiv earlier in the week underscored the consistent message America has been giving on Ukraine, namely that it stands by Ukraine.

"This was not news to us either. We expected and were fully aware of it before," Vseviov added.

Putin also made a speech to the Federal Assembly, the bicameral Russian legislature on Tuesday, the same day Biden was in Poland.

Of the Putin presentation, Vseviov said it could be: "Summed up in two important points. First, there was not the slightest indication that Vladimir Putin was ready to change gears, that he had amended his goals. It was all presented to us in the most genuine 'schizophrenic sauce' typical of totalitarianism, where black was white and white was black - Ukraine and the West are the ones who have started the war, Russia is defending its territory, etc."

"Second, the important news is that Russia is suspending participation in the START treaty regulating strategic nuclear weapons. I agree with [security expert and former foreign ministry secretary general] Rainer Sachs that it must be viewed as such, in the broader context of threats of the use of nuclear weapons. These threats didn't work before, and they won't work now," he added.

There may not be any change in the war situation overnight, however, Vseviov said, and any change which might emerge would be more at the strategic, bigger picture level than on the battlefield.

"Since the beginning of the war, Russia has built its theory of victory on the hope that the West's attention will be distracted, its unity will disintegrate and support for Ukraine will be cut off. This has been wrong from the beginning," Vseviov said.

The foreign ministry had watched Putin's speech closely and with great interest, he added.

"We found that, as befits this type of regime, the longer a leader has been in office, the longer the speeches get, but at the same time, the briefer the thoughts are that are presented."

The ministry has also formulated a six-point plan which would accompany any possible peace.

This would entail Europe's territorial integrity remaining intact as a basic principle of security, no acceptance of "spheres of influence" and one country having a say in another's actions, the elimination of "gray areas" on the map of Europe, NATO and the EU remaining the bastions of Europe's security, the discrediting as aggression as a tool of foreign policy, and, ultimately, a theoretical return to starting to normalize relations with Russia, if, and only if, trust begins to be rebuilt, a move which Russia must take the initiative on.

"Yes, this is possible, but these relations must be started by building trust, and here the ball is clearly in Russia's court," Vseviov added.

Vseviov said no objections to the ministry's above action points had been heard to date.

Speaking a day after he had visited Kyiv, and at the same presidential palace in Warsaw that he had made a speech shortly after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February last year, President Biden doubled down on support for Ukraine, saying that Russia would "never win" the conflict.

Putin's speech to the legislature in Moscow was a regular, annual such lengthy monologue he has been making for the past two decades or so.

Macron this week said he does not want to see Russia "crushed" as a result of its invasion of Ukraine.

The Munich Security Conference is an annual conference on international security policy, first held 60 years ago, in the Bavarian city where Chamberlain and his French counterpart Édouard Daladier had in 1938 signed an agreement with Adolf Hitler which hived off the Sudetenland region from Czechoslovakia, and handed it to Germany.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

Source: 'Esimene stuudio' interviewer: Johannes Tralla;

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