PM in Ukraine: Estonia believes in Ukraine's victory, future in EU, NATO

Kaja Kallas and Volodymyr Zelensky in Zhytomyr.
Kaja Kallas and Volodymyr Zelensky in Zhytomyr. Photo: Mihkel Maripuu

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, who is on a visit to Ukraine, received the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, 2nd Class, from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and affirmed that Estonia believes in Ukraine's victory and future in the European Union and NATO.

On Monday, Kallas met with Zelensky during her first foreign visit of her new term, government spokespeople said.

The meeting took place in Zhytomyr and also involved the signing of a joint declaration.

"This is my first foreign visit as the head of the new Estonian government. I came here with a clear message that we believe in Ukraine's victory and we believe in Ukraine, which is a prosperous liberal democracy and a free market economy that belongs to the Euro-Atlantic family," Kallas said at a press conference after the meeting. "We remain committed to helping Ukraine win its war for freedom."

Kallas expressed hope that one of the first decisions of her new government to send Ukraine artillery shells will inspire other countries to quickly implement the European Union initiative, proposed by Estonia, to procure one million artillery shells for Ukraine.

"As President Zelensky has said, freedom must be better armed than tyranny. This is our common motto. Therefore, the aid focuses on weapons, ammunition and training -- there must be enough for Ukraine to win the war,” Kallas said.

In the joint declaration signed after the meeting, Kallas and Zelensky emphasize that a strong, independent and prosperous Ukraine is essential for European security as a member of the EU and NATO.

"Your struggle, your losses and your sacrifices have made this crystal clear: the path to lasting peace is to end grey zones in European security. NATO and EU enlargement have increased stability -- our region is a living example of this. Therefore, for peace in Europe, we need Ukraine in the European Union, we need Ukraine in NATO," the Estonian prime minister said.

She added that she would like to see Ukraine be able to start accession negotiations with the European Union by the end of the year if all the necessary conditions are met.

Kallas thanked Zelensky for inviting her to start the visit in Zhytomyr.

"Zhytomyr is the region that Estonia has decided to help to rebuild. We were the first to do so. This is a very clear practical confirmation of our faith in Ukraine and in Ukraine's victory. Reconstruction is not something which should be left for the future. We need to help Ukraine to start building their future already now," Kallas said.

The prime minister gave the example of the Ovruch kindergarten, the first stage of the construction of which will be completed by June 1.

"I am pleased to announce today that we will be building a second section that will provide childcare places for 80 more children," Kallas said.

In addition, Estonia supports the reconstruction of the Malyn bridge and participates in the construction of orphanages together with the Olena Zelenska Foundation. According to the prime minister, all Estonian projects have been modelled in such a way that partners could easily replicate them elsewhere in Ukraine.

"Reconstruction, together with EU integration and reforms, can provide a significant boost to Ukraine's economy. Ukraine has the potential to become one of Europe's most successful economies in the future," Kallas said.

Later, Kallas and Zelensky met with students of the Zhytomyr Polytechnic State University to discuss democracy, resistance to aggression and European integration. During the second half of the visit, Kallas will meet with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov and receive an overview of the investigation of war crimes committed by Russia from Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko.