HS interview Estonian President Alar Karis: “Russia will not be able to decentralize NATO”

Russian The demands launched in December by the United States and the Alliance for Defense NATO, the relocation of troops to Ukraine, military exercises and the movement of warships in the Baltic Sea are keeping Europe on its toes. Russia’s neighbors in particular are concerned.

“Naturally, all of Russia’s neighbors are following the situation closely. And not just the situation in Ukraine, but the events in Belarus and Russian movements, ”said the President of Estonia. Alar Karis said to HS in an Zoom interview.

There is no direct threat to Estonia, the president emphasizes.

“We have to worry about the situation in Ukraine. But we have no fear here. We are members of NATO and the EU, and we have our own defense. I don’t think the situation in Finland is very different from ours right now, even though you are not a member of NATO. ”

Security situation can of course change. It can escalate, admits Karis. In that case, the Baltic countries, including Estonia, will feel that NATO will be of particular benefit to them.

In the opinion of President Karis, states occupied by the Soviet Union for decades, such as Estonia, had no choice but to apply for NATO membership. The country joined NATO in 2004.

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Russian in the face of recent actions, NATO’s unity and commitment to common goals has been questioned. However, Karis does not see dividing lines in the internal cohesion of the Defense League.

“Russia will not be able to decentralize NATO. Nor to the decentralization of the EU. We all have a good understanding of what is going on in Ukraine, but we do not want the situation there to escalate. ”

Karis believes the Russian leadership is now testing the reactions.

“Even the Russian Foreign Minister said that Russia does not want to invade Ukraine and that they are ready to continue negotiations. But we have to be prepared for other options as well. ”

“Hopefully [Venäjän presidentti Vladimir] Putin knows that he should not take it a step further, but that it should escalate. ”

It seems that Russia is trying to blackmail the West, mainly the United States and NATO.

“Yes. Russia is acting very opportunistically. But it must be remembered that all options, such as an invasion of Ukraine, are speculation. We do not have information. And that’s why we have to be prepared. ”

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President Karis attaches great importance to Ukraine’s support. One reason is that the aid is building a deterrent to Russia.

Estonia has offered to send to Ukraine the East German field cannons it originally bought from Finland. Finland has once acquired weapons from Germany, so permission to sell them must be sought from both Finland and Germany.

The Wall Street Journal said earlier in January that Germany would not give permission to export arms to Ukraine.

“We haven’t received an official response from Germany yet,” Karis said.

Estonia is now waiting for a response from Germany. According to Karis, Germany is also consulting Finland on the matter.

Help however, there are many types: Estonia and Germany have reported to donate To Ukraine together with a field hospital. Germany is sending helmets to the Ukrainians.

In Finland, there are have been sticky at least the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs Mika Niikko (ps) and the Vice-Chair Erkki Tuomioja (sd).

However, Niikko comments on the Twitter service that Ukraine cannot be compared to helping Estonia or Sweden, as Estonia and Sweden are EU countries.

“Good to know,” said Karis.

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“Getting help in the future may be important. And reciprocally, giving aid. ”

Finland and Estonia, the Baltic States and Sweden and Denmark are connected by a common sea area in the form of the Baltic Sea. Its location is also strategically important for Russia, so cooperation between neighbors is important.

“The most important thing right now is the exchange of information,” said Karis.

“President Sauli Niinistö share information commendably. ”

Estonians according to their president, are calm. Of course, the Russian movements are interesting and there is concern about Ukraine. But there is no panic.

Earlier in the week, President Karis said in an interview with Estonian Vikerraadio that it does not make sense to intimidate people unnecessarily.

“I still agree, and I am happy to say the same to Finns. The situation in Ukraine is worrying and needs to be closely monitored. “

Who: Alar Karis

* Sixth President of Estonia during the new independence.

* Karis took office in October 2021.

* Biologist by training.

* Previously served as Rector of the University of Tartu, State Auditor of Estonia and Director of the Estonian National Museum.

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