President Karis: We must not limit ourselves in helping Ukraine

  • 2024-04-03

“Ukraine is at war. Russia is not limiting itself in attacking the country. Nor can we limit ourselves in the assistance we provide to the Ukrainians. I consider it entirely legitimate for Ukraine to attack military and other targets within Russia that support the war in order to slow the progress of the Russian war machine.” So spoke President Alar Karis in meeting with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal of Ukraine in Kadriorg today.

“Imposing limits such that we will help Ukraine up to a certain point but not beyond it would only benefit Russia in planning its aggressive strikes,” the head of state remarked. “In a war, it is perfectly legitimate for the Ukrainian forces to destroy infrastructure critical to the Russian army if it is linked to close- or long-range drone and missile strikes on civilian and energy targets in Ukraine.”

President Karis noted that the European Union and its transatlantic allies were better placed than Russia. “Let us not forget that we are economically and militarily more powerful than the country which instigated this conflict,” he said.

The head of state described the war as one in which colonialist animosity is encroaching on one side while international law and the independence of nations is defending itself on the other. “Now it is a matter of committing ourselves to the objective and finding the resources that are needed as quickly as possible so that we can actually deliver on what we have promised,” he urged. “Western nations can fill their stores with weapons and artillery and supplies, but if the Ukrainians lack all of these things on the battlefront, those stocks are meaningless.”

Estonia has taken the decision to provide 0.25% of its GDP in military assistance to Ukraine over the next four years and has called on other countries to do likewise. “If everyone does this, Ukraine will win,” President Karis said. “We must give the Ukrainians what they need.”

The head of state also stressed the importance of ongoing assistance for the rebuilding of Ukrainian infrastructure destroyed by Russia, even while the war rages on, so as to give the Ukrainians hope that their lives will return to normal and that those forced to flee the country can return to their homeland. He also expressed his wish to see Ukraine’s economy supported through business cooperation in the defence, construction and digital sectors.

He added: “Though I have said it before, let me say it again – particular attention must be turned to Ukrainian research and education. How they are maintained or, where necessary, restored will in large part determine the future of Ukraine. Just as here in Estonia we say that education is our greatest strength, the same is true of Ukraine.”

President Karis went on to address the economic sanctions imposed on Russia. “It goes without saying that they are essential,” he said. “But more important than the sanctions themselves is observance of them, without which they are nothing more than a finely worded declaration.”

The head of state concluded by saying that Ukraine’s place – and that of Moldova – in the bigger picture of EU and NATO enlargement should be fixed in people’s minds. “That means both being freed from the taint of corruption and making visible progress in moving towards a strong civil society,” he advised.