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Zelenskyy in Estonia: A ceasefire would give Russia time to gather strength

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President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets with Estonian President Alar Karis.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets with Estonian President Alar Karis. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Ukraine agreeing to a ceasefire in the current situation would give Russia the chance to regroup, reinforce its units and replenish stocks before attacking again, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy said after meeting his Estonian counterpart Alar Karis.

"Talking about a ceasefire in Ukraine, it would not constitute peace. It would not mean the war would stop. It also provides no opportunity for political dialogue," Zelenskyy said when asked by ERR journalist Anton Aleksejev whether a ceasefire could help Ukraine gather its strength.

Zelenskyy said that Russia's munitions and drone stocks are also being depleted and that it has lost a lot of soldiers and entire units. They have lost a lot of experienced soldiers – those who fought in Chechnya and Syria, and the Wagner mercenary group has also been destroyed. Now Russia is looking to reform them, including by recruiting more prisoners, the Ukrainian president said.

"It is no accident they are trying to source Shahed drones from Iran and are in talks for munitions procurements, including from North Korea," Zelenskyy remarked. "Why are they doing it? Because they cannot keep up, their warehouses are emptying."

"But if there is a break in the fighting and Russia is given two or three years, they may recover their strength and secure a battlefield advantage," Zelenskyy noted.

The Ukrainian leader also said that while the population of Russia still supports the war, its effects have started to reach the people as sanctions are having an effect, even if it is slow to happen.

Ukraine will make any decision toward a ceasefire based solely on its interests, Zelenskyy stressed.

Asked about pressure from the West for a ceasefire, Zelenskyy said he has not had any direct contact of that nature, and that Ukraine will continue based on what it decides.

President Alar Karis, when answering the same question, said that while there have been such discussions, they are held behind the scenes and also emphasized Ukraine's right to make its own decisions. "The important thing is not to let a few countries break our unity," he remarked.

The Estonian president pointed to Estonia's experience with the Soviet Union and the West's relationship with Russia in which the latter has retained and tried to act upon its aggressive intentions.

Zelenskyy also pointed to Ukraine's own peace plan for which over 80 countries have expressed their support, Estonia being among the first. The president thanked Estonia for this support.

Zelenskyy thanks Estonia for support

President Zelenskyy thanked Estonia for its continued support, pointing out that Ukraine has received 17 aid packages from Estonia so far.

President Karis said that Estonia will give Ukraine €1.2 billion worth of aid between the start of the war and 2027.

During their meeting Thursday, the presidents discussed treatment and rehabilitation possibilities in Estonia for wounder Ukrainian soldiers.

Zelenskyy also highlighted Estonia's leading role in efforts to organize Ukraine aid in Europe and its support for Ukraine's EU and NATO integration.

"Estonia is working with us toward having justice, which matters to all states that value international law and a rules-based world," the Ukrainian president remarked.

Karis: We should have no limitations in terms of the weapons we give to Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Alar Karis. Source: Office of the President / Raigo Pajula

President Alar Karis said at the press conference that on Thursday he signed a decision to bestow symbolically on Ukrainian soldiers Estonia's highest military decoration, the 1st Class of the Order of the Cross of the Eagle with swords for efforts to defend the freedom of Ukraine and us all.

Karis emphasized that Estonia has stood firm by Ukraine's side during a time when the Ukrainians are fighting for their freedom and that of the entire democratic world.

The war must end in a Ukrainian victory, while its outcome depends on the allies maintaining unity, Karis said.

"We must continue to work together to weaken the aggressor with sanctions and rule out their evasion. We must also isolate the aggressor politically," the Estonian president noted.

Western countries need to ramp up their military industry in order to support Ukraine, and repelling Russian aggression must prevent future wars of aggression in Europe, Karis stressed.

"By giving military support we must realize that attacking the enemy's military sites is inevitable in war. We should have no limitations in terms of what we give Ukraine.

Zelensky: We have done more to get into NATO than anyone else

President Zelenskyy said, when answering a question by a Delfi journalist, whether Ukraine will be invited to join the alliance at the NATO Washington summit, that his country has done more to deserve it than anyone else.

"I find that Ukraine deserves it and has done more than any other country. We have a very strong army, which supports NATO's Eastern European members," Zelenskyy said. "We have an army that is experienced not just theoretically but in practical terms. It is a force that has used NATO equipment in war and battle, not just exercises. We know the worth of these weapons, we know their positive sides as well as the difficulties one might expect to run into on the battlefield in any season. This experience has been paid for in blood. Talking about our capacity and interoperability with NATO standards, we find that we are entirely ready."

The Ukrainian leader added that as concerns institutions and people, important reforms are continuing even during wartime.

He said that 90 percent of Ukrainians support NATO membership. It is the best security guarantee for Ukraine and would make sure Russian aggression will not return.

"It would be the best security guarantee for the Baltic countries and Poland and would provide an opportunity to think of Belarus, of what their future might be."

President Karis said that talk of NATO started in Estonia when there were still Russian military units in the country.

"It is a long process and it's clear Ukraine will not be accepted the day after the war ends. It will take a little more time than that," Karis noted.

"But history has shown that buffer zones don't work. It has also shown that states which have gone down the democratic path and want to defend themselves do not really have an alternative to NATO," Karis emphasized.

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Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski

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