Estonian official to French counterpart: February will be crucial in Russia's war

  • 2023-02-08
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – The secretary general of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jonatan Vseviov, met with his French counterpart Anne-Marie Descotes in Tallinn on Wednesday to discuss Russia's aggression in Ukraine, continued support for Ukraine and security in Europe.

The talks focused on Russia's aggression in Ukraine, which has continued for almost a year. Vseviov said that February will be crucial in Russia's war.

"Russia's war and its end will define security in Europe for at least a generation," Vseviov said. "This war must end in Ukraine's victory, we are working towards this, standing shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine," he said according to spokespeople.

Vseviov described Ukraine's victory as an existential issue for Estonia.

He stressed that Russia had not changed its strategic goal, which is to occupy Ukraine, and the next month will be crucial for how the war will play out in the future.

"The idea that Russia wants peace talks is a lie spread by Russia and the West will not go along with this narrative," the Estonian official said. "We can see that mobilization continues and Russia is preparing for a new offensive in Ukraine, which is why it is particularly important to raise the cost of the war for Russia."

"We must continue offering Ukraine every assistance and send a clear message that the doors of the European Union and NATO are open to Ukraine," Vseviov said, recognizing France for continuing to provide critical defense support. "Ukraine is currently fighting for its right to self-determination, its right to choose who and where they would like to be. The open door of the EU and NATO will give them hope, which is vital for their morale on the battlefield."

Vseviov and Descotes also spoke about additional sanctions against Russia, including the agreement to impose a price cap on Russia's refined oil products and the crude oil price cap, which will be reviewed in March.

"Apart from additional sanctions, it is important to make sure that Russia is not evading current sanctions," Vseviov said. He expressed regret that only eight percent of Western companies have left Russia by now.

He briefed his French colleague on Estonia’s efforts to find a legal option for using frozen Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine. The secretaries general also spoke about holding Russia accountable for the war crimes and crime of aggression committed in Ukraine.

Vseviov and Descotes were about to visit the border city Narva and the French troops in Tapa later on Wednesday. Vseviov affirmed that Estonia appreciates the continued presence of the French contingent in Estonia as part of NATO's collective defense. They also discussed the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius and the need to increase defense spending.