Estonia says events in Crimea «invasion and occupation»

Isamaa ja Res Publica Liidu (IRL) rahvuslaste ühendus korraldas eile Tallinnas Venemaa saatkonna ees meeleavalduse, et protestida Vene vägede Ukrainasse sissetungi vastu ja avaldada Ukrainale toetust.

PHOTO: Martin Ilustrumm / Reporter.ee

National Defence Council, an advisory body with the President of Estonia, this Sunday condemned Russia’s aggression in Crimea, Ukraine, and supported strongest measures by European Union and NATO against military activities of Russia.

Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, defence minister Urmas Reinsalu and foreign minister Urmas Paet affirmed yesterday that the events in Crimea may be called invasion and occupation performed by Russia.

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves declared: «[What is happening] in Ukraine, on the Crimean Peninsula, is Russian invasion and de facto occupation. Russia’s military activities in Ukraine, or corresponding threats, have an effect on security of entire Europe.»

Yesterday, the President’s National Defence Council convened to an emergency meeting. The advisory body is composed by President of the Riigikogu, Prime Minister, chairman of the National Defence Council of the Riigikogu, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defence, Minister of Finance, Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister of Justice, and Commander of the Defence Forces. The National Defence Council meeting held in Toompea this past Sunday, was purely dedicated to the topic of Ukraine.

Inhabitants of Estonia need not fear

«People in Estonian don’t need to be afraid,» Andrus Ansip commented after the council. President Ilves added that while our people have no need to worry about the security of Estonian state, the crisis in question clearly affects relations in Europe, as well as interactions between Russia and the European Union, Russia and NATO, and Russia with the world powers.

Estonia supports Ukraine’s new government. The main goal is finding a peaceful solution and halting the escalation of the conflict.

Should Russia not pull back, however, the strongest countermeasures against Russia must be utilised on EU and NATO level, assured members of the National Defence Council. At the press conference, afterwards, foreign minister Mr Paet mentioned, for instance, mentioned both the visa topic (in various countries, there have been calls to impose visa ban on Russian authorities) and various Russia-related economic agreements.

Russia may face dire consequences

In foreign media, various sanctions have been mentioned, starting with economic sanctions all the way to such steps as expelling Russia from G8 or boycott of the Paraolympic Games soon to start in Sochi. In addition to that, there are calls (as also by Estonia) to send foreign observers into Crimea.

In addition to meetings and statements by politicians, this Sunday also featured an IRL-organised mid-day demonstration in front of the Russian Embassy, et Pikk Street, Tallinn. At the meeting, with about two hundred participators (many of those local Estonian Ukrainians), the aggression by Russia was condemned and calls voiced for sanctions against Russia. Ukrainian and Estonian flags were waived, various posters carried: «No to War», «Hands off Ukraine», «Stop Putin’s Fascism».

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