Critical to Ukraine war, Estonian PM wants to end talks with Putin

The New York Times – Kaja Klas, now 44, grew up in Soviet Unionthat annexed her country to Estoniadistance second war.

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She remembers the Soviet occupation and visiting East Berlin in 1988 when she was 11 – her father told her to “breathe the air of freedom” from West Berlin. She recalls the stories of 1949, when her mother, Christie, then a child, was deported to Siberia in a cattle cart with her grandmother and great-grandmother and lived there, in exile, until the age of ten—part of a Moscow effort.. to eliminate Estonia’s elite.

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Perhaps it is no wonder that Kallas, now Prime Minister of Estonia, has become one of the strongest voices in Europe against Russia because of its war in Ukraine.

Together with Latvia and Lithuania – countries that were also annexed before Soviet Union Estonia is one of the smallest and most vulnerable countries in Europe. But the recent history of these countries has given them special status and credibility to pressure their larger European brethren to take a hard line against the Russian president, Russian President Vladimir PutinSupporting Ukraine in its struggle for freedom.

In an interview in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, Klass explained that the fate of Ukraine should be decided by Ukrainians. But she believes that merely asking for peace with Putin would be a mistake at this point as a form of reward for his aggression. She argues forcefully that Russia should be seen as a loser, lest history repeat itself elsewhere.

Just as the Soviets occupied and annexed Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—and much as the Russians occupied Crimea in 2014—Moscow, Kallas, and others have warned, not to do the same with large parts of southern and eastern Ukraine if there is an opportunity, with dire consequences.

“Peace cannot be the ultimate goal,” she said. “We had peace yet second warBut the atrocities against our people began or continued,” citing mass deportations, the killing of the country’s elite, and attempts to “erase our culture and language.”

“We will see all this,” she said in the Russian-occupied territory of Ukraine. Therefore, he says, “a peace that allows aggression to bear fruit” is unacceptable.

Even among the stubborn leaders of the Baltic states, lawyer Kallas has received much praise for her warning that the Russian invasion of Ukraine marked a turning point in European history and must be defeated at all costs and without concessions.

Klaas became Estonia’s first prime minister in January 2021 after serving as a legislator in the Estonian and European parliaments. She has led the Islah party, the country’s largest party, since 2018. Her father, Sim Klaas, was also Prime Minister and later European Commissioner.

From top to bottom, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karenz and Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonetti prepare to meet in Riga, Latvia.
From top to bottom, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karenz and Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonetti prepare to meet in Riga, Latvia. take photo: Toms Calnins / EFE

I presided over a coalition government that provided early support to Ukraine and support per capita from the small country of 1.3 million people more than any other country in the world.

Kallas has been a vocal critic of the continued efforts of other leaders such as Emmanuel Macronthe president of France, to maintain contacts with Putin while Ukraine fights for its sovereignty and existence as an independent country.

She emphasized that only the Ukrainian government and its head, Volodymyr ZelenskyYou should negotiate with Putin, whom you consider a war criminal.

“The conversation should take place between Zelensky and Putin, because they are part of the war and their skin is on the line,” she said. She said the Ukrainians “are the only ones who can say what room for maneuver, because they are the ones who suffer”.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas at a press conference on 22 April;  For her, the Ukrainians must decide on dialogue with Russia.  Photo: TOMS KALNINS/EFE
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas at a press conference on 22 April; For her, the Ukrainians must decide on dialogue with Russia. Photo: TOMS KALNINS/EFE
take photo: Toms Calinins/Effie

There are some in Europe, including CEOs, who want to end the war in Ukraine as quickly as possible, due to the sharp rise in the prices of energy, grains, cooking oil and many other items that have led to record inflation, partly caused by its harsh sanctions Europe on Russia.

But Klass has little patience for such pressure on Ukraine, especially since only Ukrainians are fighting for what she considers the values ​​and security of the entire transatlantic alliance.

She said, anyway, why are you talking to Putin just to talk? “I don’t see the point in talking to him because nothing came of it,” she said. “The calls were happening even before the war, and then the worst happened, Bucha and Mariupol happened, and there were no results.”

If there is a diplomatic solution, she said, “that is of course up to Ukraine.” She added that so far Putin has refused to talk to him Zelensky.

It praised Western unity so far and increased arms supplies to Ukraine after a slow start. “But as long as the war continues, we haven’t done enough and we have to see what we can do otherwise,” he said.

She said a partial deal that would allow Russia to renew its offensive at a later time was untenable. “I only see the solution as a military victory that can end this once and for all, and also punish the aggressor for what he did.” Otherwise, she said, “We’ll go back to where we started — you’ll have a break for a year, two years, and then everything will go on.”

This has been the West’s fault with Putin for years, she said, citing the 2008 war in Georgia, the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass that has been going on since 2015.

She admits that Zelensky is “in a very difficult situation”. On the other hand, “You are the leader of the country and you see the suffering of your people, and you want it to stop.” But on the other hand, “You have a general opinion that Ukraine is winning this war and that no land should be given to Russia.”

She said finding balance would be difficult, but it was up to Zelensky to do so. Nobody said: “It’s up to Ukraine to decide where its borders lie.”

It is important that the European Union and NATO Keeping the door open for Ukraine, she said, given the remarkable sacrifices it has already made to protect Western values ​​and interests. She said the Ukrainians had been given the right to prove they could qualify, and the West “should not be intimidated or threatened by anything Russia says.”

Klass quoted Lennart Meri, Estonia’s first post-Soviet president, as saying that “Europe is not geography – it is a set of values ​​and principles.” Therefore, “if Ukraine chooses this path and literally fights for it, it is not wise to alienate that country.”

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