"Putin did not go to Bucha, Putin did not go to Irpin, Putin did not go to Mariupol... this is Russia's war," new U.S. Ambassador George P Kent told Monday's Välisilm. Watch the interview (in English).
Asked if a distinction can be drawn between Russia or President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine, Kent said: "I think if you ask Estonians whose family members were shot in Tartu in July of 1941 they would say that Stalin didn't come to Tartu and shoot them. Putin did not go to Bucha, Putin did not go to Irpin, Putin did not go to Mairupol. There were soldiers who killed Ukrainians, stole Ukrainian kids and took them back to Russia. So it's Russia's war."
The ambassador said Russia's actions in Ukraine "constitute crimes against humanity, war crimes".
Discussing the threat of escalation and possible nuclear escalation, Kent said he is the son of a U.S. submarine officer who served during the Cold War. This means he grew up in communities "always on the Soviet list of places to destroy if ever there were a nuclear exchange".
The diplomat said we have become used to living without those hypothetical threats.
"But it is not about escalation it is about taking the steps necessary to support Ukraine and to try to limit Russia's ability, not only to attack Ukraine, but to threaten the West. And they do that also with these threats," he said.
Until last week, Estonia has been without a U.S. ambassador for over four years but relations are still "excellent" said Kent.
The ambassador, who presented his credentials to President Alar Karis at the end of February, also discussed Estonian-U.S. relations, defense and security, China and Russian relations, Russia's war in Ukraine, and prosecuting war crimes with Välisilm.
Watch the full interview, in English, below.
Editor: Helen Wright