Estonian PM talks about Russia's war in Ukraine at Paasikivi Seura in Helsinki

  • 2022-11-15
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – In her speech at Paasikivi Seura (Paasikivi Society), a prestigious Finnish foreign policy think tank, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas stressed that Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine is not just about Ukraine, but about the entire international rules-based order and the future security architecture of Europe.

Kallas said that the Russian strategy vis-a-vis the Euro-Atlantic community is built around three weapons -- pain, fear, and hope.

"The pain of starving Europe from energy. Fear of nuclear war. Hope to pressure Ukraine into a peace agreement granting Russia parts of conquered territory," she said. 

Detailing the response that the Euro-Atlantic community should come up with, Kallas said that when it comes to the pain inflicted on us by Russia with the energy weapon -- we will survive, and we will prosper.

"Russian aggression has demonstrated what happens when you connect to partners who weaponize trust. Trust may come at a price -- but it is a price worth paying. The European Union and its member states have learned lessons from dependence on Russian fossil fuels and there has been a sharp move away from it," she said.

"Concerning fear, let's remember what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said: 'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.' If we allow nuclear blackmail to work even just once, we will wake up in a much, much more dangerous world," Kallas said. 

As regards the prospect of freezing the conflict and looking for a diplomatic solution, the Estonian premier said she really hopes that Europe has learnt that appeasement only strengthens the aggressor, and that the aggressor will never stop unless it is stopped.

"The longer it takes, the harder it gets. In Estonia we know from our painful history what Russian peace really means -- executions, torture, and deportations," she said.

"Any pause today in Ukraine would allow Russia to prepare, rest and regroup only to continue the aggression later. And in the end, we would -- paraphrasing Churchill -- have both dishonor and the war. After all, we had the chance to prevent future aggressions by Russia in 2008 and 2014. But the response from the free world then was weak. Principles were exchanged for cash, truth for gas. And the aggressor's confidence only grew. And now we have come to this -- a large-scale genocidal war," Kallas said.

"As for peace, unless the Kremlin gives up on its goal of conquering new territories in Ukraine, it is difficult to believe in the prospect of any real peace talks. I do not believe in the goodwill of an outright aggressor and a cold-blooded war criminal. As President von der Leyen recently said and I quote: 'This is the time for us to show resolve, not appeasement. End of quote," the Estonian prime minister said.

We are witnessing state-orchestrated war crimes, and the Kremlin has made it clear that their aim is to wipe Ukraine off the world map, she said.

"'Denazification' is the example of its hate speech -- an official Russian label of the policy of destruction of the Ukrainian state and its people. This is all too similar to incitement to commit genocide -- a distinct crime whether or not genocide actually follows. And such calls are working -- in the areas liberated by Ukrainians, we see evidence of mass killings, torture, rape, deportations. In this part of Europe, we remember this face of Russian occupation painfully well," Kallas said.

"While the crimes of Nazism have been unequivocally condemned and tried before tribunals, this has not been done with the crimes of Communism. We had the Tokyo and Nuremberg tribunals, but there was never a Moscow tribunal. Instead, Putin has built a strong revival of Stalinism in Russia and as a result opinion polls suggest that 70 percent of Russians approve of Stalin and his policies," she said.

The Estonian premier said that if people’s minds and eyes are shut before past atrocities, there are no limits to committing new ones in the future.

"This is exactly what we see Russian soldiers doing right now in Ukraine," she added.

Speaking about safeguarding our own security, Kallas highlighted Finland's historic decision to join NATO.

"We hope that both Finland and Sweden will soon be full members of NATO," she said.

The prime minister added that Finland's accession to NATO will help open new doors in our bilateral and regional defense cooperation.

"Most Finns live in the southern part of Finland, most Estonians in the northern part of Estonia. This is the reason, in one sentence, to strengthen our bilateral defense cooperation," Kallas said.