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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid