Stepped-up sanctions on Russia and reducing further the cap on its crude oil price are key to curbing the Russian war machine, Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) says.
Speaking during an official visit to Ukraine Tuesday, one day after he was in Brussels for a Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) meeting of EU foreign ministers, Reinsalu said: "Meeting my EU colleagues in Brussels yesterday, I called for quick progress with additional sanctions, including lowering the oil price cap in order to turn off the taps Russia is using to finance its aggression in Ukraine."
Unfortunately, sanctions evasion is a growing problem, and the EU is making joint efforts to prevent this, Reinsalu added.
The foreign minister met with Ruslan Stefanchuk, Chairman of the Ukrainian legislature, the Verkhovna Rada (see cover image), along with Ukraine's Head of the State Agency for Restoration and Infrastructure Development Mustafa Nayyem, with continued support for Ukraine the main topic on the table.
In his meeting with Stefanchuk, Reinsalu reiterated the need to raise the cost to Russia of the war it is prosecuting on Ukraine, by imposing additional sanctions and lowering the oil price cap from its current level of US$60 per barrel, among other measures.
The pair also spoke about Ukraine's path to joining the EU and NATO. "Estonia fully supports Ukraine's EU and NATO accession and is prepared to share its experiences to expedite the process," Reinsalu said on this matter, via a ministry press release.
The minister expressed hopes that NATO foreign ministers will discuss Ukraine's accession perspective at their meeting Brussels taking place April 4-5.
With development org chief Nayyem, the talks focused on what the most efficient assistance Estonia and other partners to Ukraine might be, in dealing with the destruction caused by Russia's missile bombardment and the ensuing destruction, which Reinsalu called "inhuman".
The foreign minister also briefed Nayyem on Estonia's work on finding ways to utilize frozen Russian assets in Ukraine's reconstruction efforts.
While an EU working party set-up to address the issue was welcome news, Reinsalu went on, more practical solutions and concrete steps are also required, while reconstruction work must start as soon as possible and not wait on the eventual defeat of Russia in the current war.
Editor: Andrew Whyte