Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Hannes Hanso and member of the Committee Johannes Kert participated in the Baltic Defence College’s annual Conference on Russia in Tartu today, where Russia’s geostrategic ambitions in Ukraine, the Baltic region and the Middle East were discussed.
Hanso said in his speech that Russia wanted to act according to the principle of divide and rule. “I do not know from where Moscow got the opinion that Russia has to have the right to veto over certain democratic choices of its neighbours,” he spoke.
In Hanso’s opinion, it is important that the international law applies to all in the same way. “The opposite situation would be disastrous to small countries,” Hanso said. “For democratic countries, it is important that the capability of military deterrence is preserved, but moral justice, freedoms, democracy, human rights, etc. are at least of the same importance. As a Western country, we have to be guided by these values.”
“Many think that Russia’s revisionist activities are regional by their character, but they are mistaken,” Hanso said. “Violation of international law has a clear global impact, and therefore we have to treat the issues relating to Russia decisively, upholding our principles.”
According to Hanso, Russia tries to put obstacles in Georgia’s, Ukraine’s and Montenegro’s path to NATO. In his opinion, it is also a very bad precedent that Russia tries to manipulate elections in other countries, for example the presidential elections in the USA. “If departing from international law becomes a norm, it will have disastrous results to small countries like us,” he said.
Hanso emphasised that Europe has to continue supporting both Georgia and Ukraine in their striving towards the European Union and NATO. Also, the sanctions against Russia should not be mitigated until the Minsk Agreements are fully implemented.
Member of the National Defence Committee Johannes Kert discussed the geostrategic interests of Russia in Ukraine in his report. He spoke in greater detail about Russia’s interests on the northern shores of the Black Sea. According to him, Russia’s economic interests in Ukraine are marginal. “Certainly Russia is interested in not allowing Belarus and Ukraine to Westernise,” Kert said.
The Baltic Defence College’s international Conference on Russia brought together representatives of armed forces, politicians and opinion leaders from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, Canada, Hungary and the USA. Among others, columnist of The Economist Edward Lucas and former Foreign Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Ogrysko also spoke at the Conference.