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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states 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.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid