In mid-November, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin fled from the G20 summit with other global leaders in Australia. What levers, in addition to the economic ones, can the world use against Mr Putin?
Next to seeking a political solution, economic sanctions surely are a most effective lever. But it is important to remember the aim and the cause of the sanctions – these have been imposed for the protection of the sovereignty and integrity of a European state. Ukraine needs to regain control over its territory and borders. Russia needs to take its armed forces out of Ukraine.
Over these past years, Western influence over Russia has nothing but increased while, considering the various facets of Russia-Europe relations, Russia is definitely not immune regarding the West. The impact has several aspects: firstly the overall cultural impact which continues to be there; secondly, the economic impact most strongly felt by Russia at the moment due to the sanctions. Thirdly, the military deterrence of NATO collective defence which is militarily keeping Putin’s Russia in check. In the current low point of West-Russia relations, all three need to be utilised.
Recently, NATO secretary-general said the amassing of Russian troops at Ukrainian border was very troublesome. Should the situation grow even worse, what new thing can the Western states do?
It is vital for Europe and other Western countries to act in unity. The main thing is ensuring that Ukraine is free to make its own choices and carry out reforms. Should the situation change, the Western countries need to be ready to act accordingly. If needed, to review and broaden the sanctions. By now, of course, Ukraine is also in need of economic support; also, the humanitarian situation is very difficult – close to half a million people have been forced to forsake their homes. That means they really lack everything just to live. To alleviate the humanitarian situation, Estonia has done its part to help.
How weighty do you consider the future role of BRICS (the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and LAV) to be?
These are major nations, all belonging to G20, representing 40 percent of world population and 20 percent of the global GDP. Whether it makes sense to always and in everything consider them all of them as a unified group, time will tell. A lot depends on the goals and roles these nations set themselves internationally, what will be the principles these countries – rather loosely linked, up to now – decide to go by.