TALLINN - At a meeting on Monday of the leaders of the countries that are part of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), convened at the invitation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, additional ways to support Ukraine were discussed, with Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas emphasizing that the goal must be the complete isolation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It was also discussed how to increase the JEF's ability to contribute more quickly to the security of the Nordic-Baltic region, spokespeople for the Estonian government said.
According to Kallas, the national leaders who participated in the meeting stressed that Putin's war against Ukraine must fail.
"Our goal is Putin's complete isolation," the Estonian premier said.
She noted that Russia's brutal aggression has caused indescribable suffering to the people of Ukraine and that we must continue to provide all possible assistance to Ukraine in defending its independence.
"While military aid remains the most important, humanitarian aid, including medicines, food and drinking water, is becoming increasingly critical," said Kallas, adding that the functioning of humanitarian and transport corridors must be ensured.
Estonia has provided over 220 million euros in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and will continue to support Ukraine.
Kallas noted that the unwavering bravery of Ukrainians in defending their country and the unity of Western countries in responding to the Russian aggression have come as a bad surprise to Putin.
"Therefore, we must continue to isolate the Putin regime and also the complicit regime of Lukashenko from the free world," Kallas said. "Sanctions are already having their initial impact, but as long as the aggressor's war machine does not stop, we must be ready to take further tough action to raise the price of aggression," she added.
The prime minister stressed that war crimes committed against Ukraine will not go without trial.
"The Putin regime will be held accountable. We fully support the work of the International Criminal Court, which has opened an investigation," she said.
Kallas also stressed that Putin's military aggression against Ukraine has permanently changed the security situation in Europe, and that the new reality requires us to adapt quickly and invest more in defense.
"I would like to thank the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, the United States and other allies who have already increased their defense-related presence in Estonia or are taking part in various exercises here," Kallas said.
"In order to ensure the security of our region, defense cooperation in all formats is essential. This is why concrete steps must be taken, including training exercises organized, so that what is being done within the framework of the JEF would also ensure the security of the Nordic-Baltic region more than before," Kallas added.
On Tuesday, discussions were set to continue on how the countries that are members of the JEF can further intensify their defense cooperation. Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet was to represent Estonia at that meeting.
The JEF is a UK-led defense cooperation format that includes, in addition to the UK, Estonia, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland. The JEF has an important role to play in strengthening deterrence and defense in the Baltic Sea region, both politically and defensively. The JEF is ready to react quickly at sea, on land, and in the air. In a crisis situation, the primary role of the JEF is rapid response and force transfer, which makes it important to enhance interoperability between the participating countries.