Prime minister: No question of resuming to 'business as usual' with Russia

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas speaking at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, Monday, May 15, 2023.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas speaking at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, Monday, May 15, 2023. Source: Government Office.

Russia is a pariah state which must be isolated, meaning there is no question of any resumption of a "business as usual" relationship with Europe and the West, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) says.

At the same time, Ukraine's fight for its existence is also a fight for the right to exist as a country and to live free from repression, the prime minister went on.

"Russia is a pariah state that needs to be isolated. There's no room for flirtation with the idea of resuming to business as usual with Russia. Our joint pressure against Russia must increase, not decrease," Kallas said, according to a government office press release.

The Prime Minister added Monday that the international approach to Russia must remain firm and with the long-term in mind.

"We should not believe in the goodwill of an outright aggressor and cold-blooded war criminal. There should be no interpreting of Russia through a democratic lens," Kallas said Monday, speaking at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, in Denmark.

The primary focus should remain on making sure that aggression ends in defeat.

"Any 'negotiated pause' would serve the Kremlin's interests so it can use the time to rebuild and prepare its forces for future aggression," Kallas said.

The faster Russian leader Vladimir Putin understands that he has made a mistake, that he will not reach his objectives and that he will not be able to break the Ukrainians, the sooner the current war will end. "Recalling the words of [Ukrainian] President [Volodomyr] Zelenskyy, for victory, freedom must be armed better than tyranny," the prime minister said.

"This means that the number one focus should be arms, ammunition and training – all of which must continue at a scale sufficient for Ukraine to win the war."

Kallas added that until Russian society is prepared to take responsibility for its crimes, all should prepare for the worst. "Stopping an aggressor has its cost living next to a pariah stat has a cost. Hence, we need to strengthen our own defenses and security. Peace and stability in Europe are secured geo-politically by the EU and NATO, which are able to defend Europe militarily. We also need to bring an end to gray zones in Europe, however. That means Ukraine must become a member of both NATO and the EU." 

Kallas added that democratic governance in Europe and a liberal worldview were, in Russia's eyes, enemies which must be destroyed.

Much of the free world meanwhile is now inevitably, and rightly, focused on assisting Ukraine on the battlefield, the Estonian prime minister continued.

"The aggressor must be defeated on the battlefield, though Russia is also waging a war against our democracies – an energy war, an information war and a cyber war," Kallas noted.

"We in Estonia, at the front line of democracy, have long been aware of Russia's hybrid tactics. The Kremlin attempts to influence political and social choices and undermine trust within free societies. Not only from within, but also in relation to trust between countries – one of Russia's long-term goals is also to undermine unity between the allies," she added. 

Nonetheless, it is not only the battlefield success that will decide the outcome of the war, Kallas added. "We have to show Russia that it cannot outlast Ukraine and the free world economically," she continued. "So, Ukraine's win also depends on our ability to dry up the Kremlin's income to finance its aggression." 

The Prime Minister added that for peace to last in Europe, accountability is needed, adding that without this, Russia's cycle of violence will never stop. "This is not only Putin's war. The Russian people also bear a responsibility. As long as territorial expansion is considered a virtue in Russia, with the human lives lost an acceptable side-effect, Russia's aggression will sooner or later return, meaning there will be no lasting peace in Europe." 

Prime Minister Kallas was speaking on Monday before the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, which is organized by the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, an NGO founded by former Danish premier and former secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

She also met with Denmark's prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, while in Copenhagen.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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