President: Supporting Ukraine is in the interests of all of Estonia

In his speech on the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia on Saturday, President Alar Karis said that supporting Ukraine is in the interests of all of Estonia.
In his speech on the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia on Saturday, President Alar Karis said that supporting Ukraine is in the interests of all of Estonia. Photo: Mihkel Maripuu

In his speech on the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia on Saturday, President Alar Karis said that supporting Ukraine is in the interests of all of Estonia, while one of Estonia's goals is to calmly and consistently make sure that the whole of NATO thinks this way and that, through us acting together, war will not reach Estonia.

Karis said we in Estonia have no reason to fear anyone or anything.

«By this, I'm referring to the rising fear of war recently and the claims that Russia could attack NATO»s eastern flank in three, five, or eight years. It might. But it will not attack if we are prepared for it. To quote Hamlet: 'the readiness is all.' Today is the third anniversary of Russia's war in Ukraine, which the Kremlin hoped to wrap up in three days. Attacking Ukraine for a third year, Russia is attacking us all,» he said.

«Here, Estonia is a compelling example that a small country can defend the Free World's principles. By assisting Ukraine, we are defending freedom and international law as values of principle. And we must allow Ukraine the opportunity to defend itself the same way that NATO allies would defend themselves in the event of an attack. All our allies can afford the 0.25 percent of GDP that Estonia contributes annually towards Ukrainian defense. The total amount would be 120 billion euros each year. Ukraine needs it, just as it needs weapons and ammunition, to persevere through Russia's aggression,» Karis said.

The president said that supporting Ukraine against Russia's attacks is not only the concern of politicians, officials, or members of the military. It is in the interests of the Estonian state. And if Ukraine can win with our assistance, then it will be our victory as well.

«Ukraine's struggle is keeping Russia's military away from the borders of the European Union and NATO, but sooner or later it will want to restore its army's earlier presence, and perhaps even increase it. Buffer zones and spheres of influence continue to characterize the Kremlin's worldview -- attacking Ukraine was a confirmation this. In the coming years, Russia will pose an even graver threat to democratic Europe than it did before 2022,» he said.

According to Karis, our westernmost allies have also come to understand this. They understand that the dangers stalking Europe are in our very backyard. Therefore, NATO has made collective defense from the Russian threat priority number one.

«Again, the readiness is all. With it, we show our adversary how difficult an attack on us would be. So difficult that it would lose everything. Our sound readiness protects, deters, and blocks. The more seriously we take it, the greater the chance of peace. As I remarked in a speech given in Finland in memory of former President Ahtisaari: our strength will deliver peace, while weakness only feeds war,» he said, adding that one of Estonia's aims is to calmly and consistently guarantee that all allies develop their military forces and weaponry in a volume that meets the Russian threat. In doing so, NATO will remain the world's strongest military force, the borders of which Russia does not dare to violate. These last 75 years can be taken as proof.

The president described the admission of Finland, and soon also Sweden, into the alliance as the most important sign of our political and military strength. NATO's Baltic corner has now swelled into a single security zone, the largest in the transatlantic alliance. Allied cooperation in support of the security of the Nordic and Baltic countries, Poland, Germany, and all our regions helps to lay a mat that protects our own and repels intruders.

«I believe in Estonians' will to defend. It brought us together in the Estonian War of Independence and the Singing Revolution, and is doing so now as we assist Ukraine. Ukrainians have also demonstrated that a smaller nation with a tenacious will to defend itself can stop a much more powerful military force. Estonians' will to defend is strong -- stronger than we even believe. If Estonia and our allies are prepared, then war will not cross our threshold,» Karis said.

The president said he is aware that some remain unconvinced it is necessary to pay such a high price for military defense.

«It is necessary, yes, though defense costs must not whittle other critical areas down to nothing. Education. Regional policy. The economy. Social guarantees. Culture. Roman Demtsenko, Estonian Cultural Organizer of the Year, reminded us that culture is nothing out of the ordinary like a genius' blinding revelation. It encompasses our relationships and mindset, too. It is Estonia's cultural foundation that the will to contribute to the state or, if the worst were to happen, even defend it, depends on,» Karis said.

«Thank you, Roman, for the comparison of culture to a glue that brings us together and binds us. The same can be said about education, the environment, social guarantees, the economy, and even agriculture. They all constitute our society's foundation -- both as elements that establish a sense of security and everything that is worth defending. I can't help but add something here. Often, the necessity of art is the first to be called into question in difficult times. Yet, it is especially in such difficult times that art, and culture more broadly, are key,» the head of state said.