The Ukraine war cannot lead to Russia becoming richer and should instead end in punishment, Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has said.
“The message that we have to say loud and clear is that aggression cannot pay off,” Kallas told Euronews, while attending an EU-Western Balkans summit in Tirana, Albania.
“If you attack a sovereign country, then you are not leaving with more territories or more resources, but you are punished for this because we have agreed in the international rules-based order that it’s illegal to attack another country.”
Kallas weighed in on the recent controversial comments made by President Emmanuel Macron of France, who suggested the West should offer Russia security guarantees to end the war.
“I wouldn’t offer Russia anything. I wouldn’t worry about Russia right now. I would worry about Ukraine surviving. And also Russia can always go back to its borders,” Kallas said.
“Of course, eventually the war has to stop, but it has to stop so that it does not pay off,” she went on.
“Otherwise, it gives a signal to all the aggressors in the world or the would-be aggressors in the world that you know: ‘Okay, you attack another country, and eventually you are richer because you have more territories.’ It just can’t pay off.
“It’s not the imperialistic dreams that can be really followed here.”
Since the start of the invasion on 24 February, Prime Minister Kallas has promoted a hard-line stance against the Kremlin, advocating for the harshest possible EU sanctions.
But despite the eight rafts of penalties slapped by Brussels, the war rages on with increasing brutality.
Parts of Ukraine have been plunged into darkness after Russia brutally shelled the country’s power grid, raising fears of a humanitarian crisis in winter and a new exodus of refugees.
“We have intelligence that shows clearly that the sanctions are hurting Russia,” Kallas said, noting the lack of transparency in Moscow made the true impact more difficult to discern.
“Remember when the Russian propagandists were talking about hunger is our last hope to lift the sanctions? They are very cynical, but the sanctions really hurt,” she added.
“We need to have strategic patience in order to not lift the sanctions and see the sanctions working in the longer term.”
Last week, Kallas celebrated the EU agreement to establish a price cap of $60-per-barrel on Russian seaborne oil, an unprecedented measure aimed to slash the Kremlin’s fossil fuel revenues.
The cap’s price range was decided after intense negotiations between EU ambassadors. Estonia, together with Poland and Lithuania, pushed for a stringent cap of $30 per barrel, which was quickly deemed unworkable by a majority of member states.
In the end, the consensus settled at $60 (€57) per barrel – a conservative option compared to Russia’s commercial price, which in recent days has moved between $70 and $65 per barrel of Urals crude.
“We have different views in the European Union and it’s also affecting different countries differently,” Kallas said when asked about the negotiations.
“But the very important (thing) is that we reached the agreement. Second, it’s that we reached an agreement that we will review the price every now and then. And third, it’s very important that the price cap will be lower than the market price.”
Speaking about the EU-Western Balkans summit she had just attended, the Estonian leader said the Ukraine war has changed the way the bloc sees the issue of enlargement.
“The European values that we share are the ones that are at stake in Ukraine – and Russia attacked Ukraine because it has European aspirations,” Kallas said.
“So it is not in the interests of the European Union to let the different countries slip away.”
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