Estonian PM calls to 'discredit' Russian tool of aggression

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas urged the West to "discredit" Russia's tool of aggression in Ukraine to prevent further attacks, in an AFP interview ahead of the invasion anniversary.

"We have to make the cost of this aggression higher than... benefit of this would be," Kallas said Thursday in the Estonian capital Tallinn.

"If this aggression pays off in Ukraine, then it serves as an invitation to use it elsewhere. We have to totally discredit the tool of aggression," she told AFP.

Otherwise, "the signal to... all the aggressors, or would-be aggressors, in the world, is that this pays off. Use it."

Estonia, an ex-Soviet republic and now a NATO and EU member bordering Russia, has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine from day one, repeatedly urging its allies to throw their weight behind the war-torn country.

The Baltic state of only 1.3 million people is itself among the most generous donors, with own its support to Ukraine over the past year exceeding one percent of its GDP.

Asked about finding a balance between sending aid to Kyiv and arming her country, Kallas said Estonia's defence "starts from Ukraine."

"So as long as they are fighting there, they are weakening the same enemy as we have."

- 'Just not right' -

Speaking on the invasion anniversary eve, but also a day before Estonia's Independence Day, Kallas called for Russia to be held accountable for its crimes "to break the cycle of Russia attacking their neighbours."

"Russia is the last imperialistic power... in the world," Kallas charged.

Estonia is also voicing concerns over Russian athletes possibly participating in the Paris 2024 Olympics.

"It is just not right," Kallas said, adding that "for Russia, sports is a soft power tool."

In another symbolic act of breaking with its past, Estonia has been removing Soviet-era war monuments, a process that gained momentum after the invasion of Ukraine.

"When we regained our independence, then we had so many other worries. Now, when the war started, it actually opened all the wounds," Kallas said.

But she warned the current stance towards Ukraine and Russia would be at stake in the parliamentary elections on March 5.

"My biggest competitor thinks that, you know, we shouldn't help Ukraine or shouldn't support Ukraine," she said of her far-right rivals.

- 'One victim' -

Although seeking reelection at home, Kallas has been touted as a potential candidate to replace Jens Stoltenberg at NATO's helm.

"It is highly unlikely that I will be offered such a job," Kallas said, praising Stoltenberg's work as secretary general.

But she acknowledged her country is now more heard on the international stage.

"I really like saying that, you know, when nobody knows about you, nobody knows when you're gone."

Asked about how Russia's war in Ukraine could end, Kallas said it would happen "when Russians will go back to their borders."

"There is clearly one aggressor and one victim... if Russia goes back to their border, they haven't lost anything and this is how the war should end."

"I wouldn't worry about Putin's face because the whole media is under his control... it's not the democracy, they can handle their own face-saving."