How Ukraine sees Kersti Kaljulaid’s visit? (1)

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Photo: Presidendi kantselei

Ukraine welcomed Estonia’s president with blue, black, and white flags, blue skies, and warm weather. That said, Kersti Kaljulaid has not been as prominent in the Ukrainian media as she could be.

She has mainly been mentioned in official communications and some popular online channels, accompanied only by a short description of circumstances. Some national networks broadcast the official part of the presidents’ meeting.

I asked Ukrainian experts to comment on the first days of the Estonian president’s visit. My first question was whether Ukrainian media coverage is lacking as concerns Estonia and other Baltic countries.

Director of the World Politics Institute Yevhen Magda is convinced that the Ukrainian media is not paying enough attention to Estonia and indeed all of the Baltics, even though the countries actively support Ukraine. He believes the president’s visit will deliver an impulse for the development of mutual relations.

Professor Serhi Fedunyak of the Chernivtsi University disagrees. He is convinced that the Baltics are sufficiently covered by the Ukrainian media. That said, Fedunyak believes coverage could be more thorough and go beyond an overview of facts to lessons from the achievements of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Some news associated with Kaljulaid’s visit were thoroughly covered by the media in Ukraine. One of the more prominent was the fact Kaljulaid is to become the first foreign head of state to visit the war zone in Eastern Ukraine.

Member of foreign policy experts network Prisma Serhi Gerasimchuk believes it is an important gesture in the context of international politics. It sends a clear signal that Ukraine is important not just for Estonia and the other Baltic counties but also the European Union. He hopes Kaljulaid’s decision will serve as an example to other heads of state.

Magda agrees with Gerasimchuk and is convinced that what counts is not a country’s size or obligations but political will on the level of leaders. Magda said that Kaljulaid is a brave woman who is willing to take the trip to get trustworthy information.

Head of diplomacy at initiative group Professional Governance Viktoria Vdovichenko believes that Kaljulaid’s Donbas visit paints her as a politician sporting a long vision. She added that Kaljulaid will send the signal that the conflict in Ukraine is not frozen but open war that makes life difficult for locals and the aftermath of which will affect the whole of Europe.

The other message to receive broader attention was Estonia and Ukraine’s mutual opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Vira Konstantinova from the Ukrainian Diplomatic Academy believes that Kaljulaid’s message was chosen well. The project is not just contrary to the two countries’ interests but is also a security risk. She also finds the plan’s economic benefit to be questionable, making it simply a geopolitical agreement.

The Estonian president’s official visit to Ukraine continues which is why it is too early to analyze its effects. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly clear that while Ukraine must also look for allies in the West, its true friends are located in the north. They are the Baltics and especially Estonia.