Ilves and Obama: Ukraine needs political support

Andres Einmann
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Photo: Erik Prozes

At today’s joint press conference in Tallinn, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and his US counterpart Barack Obama underlined the urgent need of Ukraine for political support.

According to Mr Ilves, political support is first priority as it leads to all other decisions such as economic, humanitarian and military assistance.  

«In NATO summit in Wales, increasing cooperation with Ukraine will be under discussion. Estonia has doubled its humanitarian and development aid, we have brought severely wounded Ukrainian soldiers over to be treated at our rehabilitation centres. At the moment, Ukraine is lacking help of this sort,» said Mr Ilves.

Mr Ilves feels the times in Ukraine, leading up parliamentary elections in October, will be tough as Russia is doing everything to undermine the elections. «Like we [also] saw with the presidential elections in Ukraine. We must be ready for a very complicated period of time,» acknowledged Mr Ilves.

According to the Estonian President, based on the parliamentary elections Ukraine’s next government will enjoy full legitimacy. Any attempts by Russian troops to disturb the process «must be documented», said Mr Ilves.

Mr Obama said the West is minded to show solidarity and support for Ukraine in its attempts to retain sovereignty.

«As allies, we need to see to it that sanctions impact the Russian economy. That will have an effect on Russia from the inside, as the state’s current strategy is not in the interests of the Russian people,» said Mr Obama.

According to Mr Obama, attention needs to also be paid to Ukrainian economy as standing against separatists supported by Russia has cost Ukraine a lot while also impacting the industry: «We need to support the Ukrainian economy and help them execute the needed reforms so they would achieve the kinds of changes we have seen in Estonia.»

Mr Obama added that Ukraine is not a NATO member and no military intervention is therefore intended. Even so, said Mr Obama, the alliance can support the Ukrainian army with trainings and other kinds of practical cooperation.