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President Karis: Zelenskyy visit's main aim was to thank people of Estonia

President Alar Karis talking to 'Ringvaade' Thursday.
President Alar Karis talking to 'Ringvaade' Thursday. Source: ERR

The main purpose of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's official visit Thursday was to thank the people of Estonia for their unwavering support since the full-scale Russian invasion began nearly two years ago, President Alar Karis says.

Speaking to ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade," the head of state said: "It is also significant for us and for the whole nation that we have contributed, and now the president also finds time to come here, from a war zone, to talk to us and to thank us for our contribution."

The same applied equally to Latvia and Lithuania, which President Zelenskyy also visited as part of a two-day whistle-stop tour only made public on Wednesday, the same day it began.

Of topics which he and Zelenskyy discussed face-to-face, Alar Karis said that these included any talk of concluding a peace deal with Russia, and the need to avoid this happening at any level.

"There has, he said, been no talk of an armistice on an official level, but this desire is still somehow there, hanging in the air. This is also something we should keep an eye on, so that we don't end up finding someone, somewhere, is sitting at the table and trying to conclude a peace deal."

In fact, "practically all topics," were covered, the president added, including Ukraine's support needs, how and to what extent Estonia can contribute to that – something which Karis said can be achieved without it compromising Estonia's own defensive capabilities in any way.

"On speaking with [Estonian Defense Forces commander] Gen. Herem yesterday, he brought me to the understanding that there is still some scope for providing aid to Ukraine from within existing stockpiles."

The president also recalled his earlier face-to-face meetings with his Ukrainian opposite number.

All of these meetings were different from each other, President Karis siad.

The first took place just two days before the Russian invasion began, and was highly tense, as it was clear something was about to happen, though it was not clear at that point exactly what.

Once the war had begun, President Karis said, Volodymyr Zelenskyy became relatively calmer, knowing that the situation was now one of war and that it was time to fight.

The third meeting, also in Ukraine, was different again, President Karis recounted, with a return to more angst and concern.

At Thursday's meeting, "the president was relatively optimistic, thought things through and talked things through," Karis went on.

"In other words, much depends on the situation at the front and how we are providing support," he added.

The Estonian head of state also stressed while talking to "Ringvaade" the importance of not only avoiding talk of war-weariness, but equally of war itself being normalized.

Alar Karis joint press conference with Volodymyr Zelenskyy held in Tallinn on Thursday is here. The Ukrainian president also met with Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and gave a joint press conference with her, and addressed a packed Riigikogu.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy entered office in May 2019, during Kersti Kaljulaid's tenure as president of Estonia. Alar Karis entered office in October 2021.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: 'Ringvaade,' interviewer Grete Lõbu.

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