Kaja Kallas in Singapore: Russia seeking destruction of another UN member state

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas looks on during a plenary session of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-la Dialogue at the Shangri-la hotel in Singapore, 4 June 2023.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas looks on during a plenary session of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-la Dialogue at the Shangri-la hotel in Singapore, 4 June 2023. Photo: How Hwee Young / EPA / Scanpix

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas began her visit to Singapore with a speech at the region's largest security conference, Shangri-La Dialogue, where she stressed that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is an event of global impact in which one member state of the United Nations is trying to destroy another UN member state.

Kallas noted in her speech that the security of Asia and the Euro-Atlantic region are clearly interlinked.

«The aggression of a permanent member of the UN Security Council against its neighbor is a threat with global implications. Therefore, Russia's aggression against Ukraine is not just a European issue or a regional conflict,» she added.

«Russia is seeking the destruction of another member state of the United Nations. Russia is testing us all to see if conquering and colonizing another independent country in the 21st century is acceptable. In Ukraine, the fundamental principles of the UN Charter and international law are at stake, including the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states,» Kallas said.

The prime minister added that Russia does not want to recognize the role of smaller states in world politics or accept their independence and decision-making rights.

«It is the duty of all of us to prevent Russia from implementing this imperialist worldview, otherwise we will all wake up in a much more dangerous world,» Kallas said.

The international community has made a clear assessment of Russia's aggression at the UN General Assembly. 141 member states have condemned Russia's aggression against Ukraine in the strongest terms and demanded Russia's complete and unconditional withdrawal from Ukraine. According to Kallas, this shows that for the majority of countries in the world, international law and the UN Charter are the first line of defense in defending their sovereignty and territorial integrity.

«President Lennart Meri also emphasized that international law is a nuclear weapon of small states. I am encouraged by the support of India and the Pacific region for international law and the UN Charter. I also express my gratitude to Singapore for their strong support for Ukraine and for their very principled and clear condemnation of Russian aggression,» Kallas said in her speech.

Kallas also stated at the Shangri-La Dialogue that NATO is a defense alliance, and contrary to Russia's imperialist narrative, NATO enlargement does not threaten Russia's security.

«Russia's full-scale war in Ukraine has once again made it crystal clear why the Central and Eastern European countries wanted to join NATO quickly after the Soviet occupation. NATO does not exist to threaten Russia, but to protect its members from the threat of Russia,» Kallas said.

The prime minister also explained how those who accuse NATO of «enlargement» and «escalation» embrace the same imperialist language and ideology that Russia advocates.

«NATO does not threaten Russia's security, but Russian imperialism,» Kallas said.

The Estonian prime minister also emphasized the need to establish ties and cooperate with those who can be trusted. It is therefore very important to strengthen cooperation between the European Union and the ASEAN countries so that we can collectively reduce our dependence on unreliable partners. Building new trustworthy connections must also go hand in hand with cybersecurity. There is therefore ample potential for greater cooperation between, for example, the EU and the ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.