News / Europe

    Q&A with Estonian Amb. Marina Kaljurand: Ukraine Must be Supported

    VOA's Carol Castiel (L) and Estonia's Amb. to the US Marina Kaljurand (R)
    VOA's Carol Castiel (L) and Estonia's Amb. to the US Marina Kaljurand (R)
    VOA News
    The situation in Ukraine continued to escalate Tuesday as the Ukrainian military began an operation to confront pro-Russian militants in the eastern part of the country. Estonia and other Baltic states with sizable Russian-speaking minority populations have been watching the rapidly unfolding events with concern.

    Marina Kaljurand, Estonia’s ambassador to the United States, has been Estonia’s envoy to Washington since 2011. She was Estonia's ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008, among other posts.

    Kaljurand discussed the crisis in Ukraine from Estonia’s point of view with VOA’s Carol Castiel.
     
    Castiel:  How does your country – Estonia – view what is going on in Ukraine? First, the annexation of Crimea by Russia and now it’s backing of pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine?

    Kaljurand: Being EU and NATO members, we share the views of these organizations. For us, there’s no question about Russia violating international law with its annexation of Crimea. Also, the events in eastern Ukraine are clearly sponsored or supported by Russia. The recent events have not only changed Europe, but changed the world. What’s happening there does not correspond with any international norms we’ve lived with since the Second World War.

    Castiel: Tell me about the Russian speaking population in Estonia.

    Kaljurand: Russian speakers are about a quarter of the population. I’m Russian. I speak Russian with my mother and I don’t need protection. I’m an Estonian citizen, I live in Estonia and I’m Estonian ambassador. So, for me, there’s a huge difference between those Russians who have lived for centuries in Estonia, who are part of the everyday life of the country. And then there are Soviets, who were brought, or came, into the country during the Soviet occupation and whose understanding may be slightly different. Some see Estonia as their home. But there’s a small part who share the views of Mr. Putin that the fall of Soviet Union was a geo-political catastrophe and who don’t accept Estonia as an independent country.

    Castiel: What is your assessment of NATO’s and the EU’s response to the situation?

    Kaljurand: The situation is developing very rapidly. NATO is taking the situation very seriously. Stopping all military to military cooperation with Russia is a very specific act. NATO understands how serious [the situation] is and is acting appropriately. As to the EU, [it] is taking the situation very seriously. Visa bans have been implemented and we are looking ahead to a possible scenario if Russia doesn’t stop putting Ukraine under huge pressure – with forces on the border, provocateurs in the country – basically doing whatever it can to destabilize Ukraine.

    Castiel: Ukraine is caught between a rock and a hard place. If the Ukrainian government reacts passively to the Russian-backed Russian separatists they would be criticized as not defending their own interests and inviting more Russian aggression. But if they act, Russia can say they are being provoked. What is your take on the Ukrainian government’s response?

    Kaljurand: The government has so far been very measured and calm. We have to support them politically, with visits and dialogue. We have to show them we are not going to impose any outside decisions over the heads of the Ukrainian people, like what happened in Yalta [after WWII]. They have the right to make their own decisions themselves. We must support them economically… That’s why the EU is promoting trade with Ukraine. We are encouraging them to prepare for the upcoming May 25 elections. That’s the answer – show the world that Ukraine is doing its part… Yes, Russia is doing everything it can to ensure the May 25 elections do not take place. We must [counter this] by sending monitors, election monitors, to be present on the ground, to show [Russia] that you cannot deceive us.

    Castiel:  How do you combat the propaganda that Russia is disseminating about Ukraine?

    Kaljurand: It’s a very difficult question. I absolutely agree with you that Russian propaganda is strong. There is almost no free media left in Russia. A part of the Estonian population – along the border – is under the influence of Russian media. And it’s the same for the Russian-speaking regions of other neighboring [Baltic] countries. We have to tell our narrative. We have to say what’s really happening, to answer lies with facts. It’s not easy. But doing nothing will not change anything either. OSCE monitors are in eastern Ukraine. They report daily and have said nothing about any human rights violations against any religious or other minority groups. The Russian propaganda machine has been working quite effectively since the beginning of the Soviet Union. We must counter it.

    Castiel:  To what extent are ordinary Russians buying this propaganda? Can they see through it or are they being brainwashed by this type of narrative?

    Kaljurand: There’s a big difference between the Russian-speaking population in Estonia and in Russia. In Estonia we have alternative channels, Russian-language programs on television, radio. Internet is free. Russia, [on the other hand], is a television country. The majority of Russians get their information from television which is totally state-controlled. So, yes, in that sense, the Russian population is brainwashed. There are a couple relatively free radio stations but their audience is relatively small. The Internet is relatively free, but [the number of news consumers] there is relatively small. So, I do think the majority believes what they see on TV, believes Putin is doing the right thing, and, yes, I think the majority of them are brainwashed.

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Popsiq from: Buganda
    April 16, 2014 7:49 AM
    What bullshit. The only news sources with any credibility seem to be the rogues like Vice news - although somebody with an opinion owns that too. Raw footage from Utube (again with ownership principles applied) while exactly that, raw, gives some lie to the garbage 'reality' the western media is feeding us.

    And that goes for the'free press' of gallant little Estonia too.

    Where was all the 'concern' for Ukraine seven years ago when Yanukovich won his first election or a year aand a half ago when Ukrianains elected him again, twice?

    Estonia, and NATO are dancing to a tune that was written in the boardrooms of America.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora