Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) says his country cannot give up EU principles in relations with the Russian Federation in the interests of certain pragmatic cooperation, as the West's powerlessness would provide Russia with the opportunity for a third interventionist adventure.
Speaking in an interview with daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL), Reinsalu expressed hope that the EU wouldn't ease its sanctions policy against Russia, according to ERR, the English-language service of Estonian Public Broadcasting.
He noted that the sanctions had been introduced to put economic pressure on Russia to fulfill all commitments under the Minsk agreements in order to halt its aggression in Ukraine's Luhansk and Donetsk, and once the commitments were met, it would be possible for the EU's sanctions policy to be reviewed.
"If we consider the West's logic, there is a risk that a mistake will be made for the third time," he continued. "A too weak stance – in Georgia – encouraged [Russia] to cut its teeth first on Crimea, then on Luhansk, then on Donetsk, and if these don't come with a too serious price tag, just a frozen conflict in which the West unilaterally displays powerlessness, then this paves the way for a third interventionist adventure somewhere in the world."
According to the foreign minister, it is unequivocally not in Estonia's interests to abandon current principles against Russia in the interests of some sort of pragmatic cooperation, regardless of how "prettily worded this may be." He noted that while for many Western countries the blocking of ongoing aggression in Russia is the only acceptable view toward not allowing injustice to prevail, in Estonia's case, this is also a matter of security, and it is in Estonia's interests to maintain Western unity.
"With the means and at the tables at which we sit in the international community," he highlighted. "Even if we are in the minority on some issues, even if we outright lose on some matters, I am not afraid of that." This, he said, is how Estonia will defend its security interests as well as countries who, just one generation ago, shared Estonia's fate and on whose territory Russian tanks are currently rolling.
Asked what to do if Estonia's voice does not prevail in the EU and if more countries find that the union should grant amnesty to Russia, lift sanctions and start establishing warmer relations, Reinsalu responded that in conditions with limited means of influence, Estonia must convince its friends that a unilateral retreat from current principles is neither rational nor moral.