President Alar Karis: “This is not a war of the Russian people. This is president Putin’s war.”

The Estonian president, Alar Karis, on 26 February said in a speech at a demonstration against the Russian war in Ukraine that this was not a war of the Russian people, this was the Russian president Vladimir Putin’s war; Estonian World publishes Karis’s speech in full.

The world we knew a week ago doesn’t exist anymore. President Putin’s decision to send Russian troops to attack Ukraine has brought another major war to the heart of Europe.

Hundreds and hundreds of Ukrainian and Russian families are already mourning a loved one killed in this incomprehensible war. My deepest condolences to the families of all these victims.

As a father and a grandfather, just as a human being, it pains me to see families with children in Ukraine fleeing the war, going who knows where, their children only able to take a teddy bear with them. And all this is happening right now, in the middle of Europe.

Kyiv’s metro stations, where people are hiding from death today, resemble bomb shelters from World War II. This is where Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian people sought shelter during Nazi air raids.

The current war is incomprehensible, absurd and horrendous. That Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, says: I don’t care about international law, I don’t care about the territorial integrity of a neighbouring country, I don’t care about the dead, I don’t care about political isolation and sanctions, I don’t care that I’m seen by many as an aggressor and a criminal, I don’t care about anything, because I… want war.

Unfortunately, UN Secretary General António Guterres spoke into a void when he appealed to the Russian President at an extraordinary session of the UN Security Council to stop his troops from entering Ukraine. Do you remember the words of Secretary General Guterres? I quote: “President Putin, stop attacking Ukraine, give peace a chance, too many people have already died.”

I read a post by a Russian woman about how she’s being contacted on social media by Ukrainians and Russians. The Ukrainians write: “Please tell the Russians that we’re against the war.” The And Russians write: “Please tell all Ukranians that we’re against the war.”

If the Ukrainians and the Russians are against the war, who’s in favour of the war?

This is not a war of the Russian people against Ukraine and the Ukrainians. This is President Putin’s war.

Because he’s afraid of a democratic Ukraine that chooses how and with whom to arrange its present and future. It’s hard for us to understand, but freedom can also be scary for some.

He fears a democratic Europe built on freedom, equality and fraternity. He says the democratic West has Russia under siege, even though no European country or the United States has the slightest intention of attacking Russia. On the contrary, we would like friendly relations with Russia, but relations are always bilateral.

By attacking Ukraine, the Russian President is attacking the entire democratic Western world, which he fears, demonises and despises. Loathing our freedom.

The Ukrainians are fighting bravely for their country. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy has remained in Kyiv and is ready to stay there until the end. Herojam slava! Their bravery deepens the anguish of millions who feel that Western governments watch Russia’s aggression, powerless and unable to stop the aggressor.

Yes, NATO allies are not sending troops to Ukraine at present. However, we’re sending them ammunition, weapons and supplies.

As a member state of NATO and the European Union, Estonia’s security is in an incomparably better position than that of countries that are not yet members of these alliances. That’s why I think it would be right to give Ukraine a clear European perspective.

Western countries have imposed new economic sanctions on Russia as an aggressor. But they’re not enough and we need an agreement, for example, on the exclusion of Russian banks from the international payment system SWIFT. This could hurt the West in some ways as well, but this pain must be endured. The pain of the Ukrainians is greater.

I support the decision to close European Union airspace to Russian aircraft. Estonia has taken this step, as have several other European countries.

I ask all of my compatriots to open their souls and the doors of Estonia to the Ukrainian refugees. Let’s show we’re compassionate and caring by nature.

I ask everyone to be supportive of the Ukrainian community in Estonia, to help those whose loved ones have been caught up in this war.

I hope we’ll soon have the phone numbers you can call to make donations. In the meantime, you can go to the website ukrainaheaks.ee and make your donation from there or by donating to the Red Cross.

I know that Ukraine and Ukrainians have many friends in Estonia. Let’s show it to them.

Slava Ukrayini!

Read also: Live updates: Russia-Ukraine war – reactions in Estonia.

The opinions in this article are those of the author.

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