Video: Press conference of Antony Blinken and Kaja Kallas in Estonia

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, is on a visit to Estonia on 8 March; Blinken and the Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, gave a joint press conference.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, is currently visiting several European countries, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. His trip has taken him to Belgium, Poland, Moldova, Latvia and Lithuania – and to Estonia on 8 March.

“The trip continues extensive consultations and coordination with our NATO allies and European partners about the Russian Federation’s continued premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified war against Ukraine,” the US Department of State said in a statement, ahead of the visit.

Kaja Kallas said, in reference to the Russia’s aggression, that “we need to be prepared for the worst”.

The Estonian prime minister noted her discussion with Binken focused on the “sharply deteriorated security situation in Europe” and the “need to adapt to the new reality”, raising the cost of aggression for Russia and supporting Ukraine. 

“This tragedy demands, first, our continued and united support to Ukraine – political, humanitarian, economic and military. Second, our focus must be on full isolation of Russia from the free world. Third, we need to adapt our own and NATO´s defence taking into account this new reality,” Kallas stated.

“Ukraine fights bravely for its homeland. What it needs urgently now is our military help. And here the American commitment and help have been and continues to be crucial,” she noted.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and the Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, gave a joint press conference in Tallinn on 8 March 2022. Photo by the Stenbock House.

Kallas said the Western allies needed to finalise and fully close SWIFT for Russia and Belarus and restricting the use of crypto currencies is “equally important”. “We have closed our airspace, now we need to take a step further and close seaports for Russia’s vessels,” the prime minister said. “And we will keep on finding new tools in our toolbox until Putin’s war machine has been paralysed”.

“We are in this for the long haul. We see already tremendous policy shifts vis-à-vis Russia across the EU. What we need next is the strategic patience to keep these decisions in place,” the prime minister added.

Asking for a permanent NATO forward defence in the Baltic region

Kallas said that “NATO needs to adapt quickly as well”. “Decisions we must make in the coming weeks and months need to include an upgraded strategy for defence in our region. This means permanently strengthening our defence on land, in air and at sea. That is why I also asked today to establish a permanent and meaningful NATO’s forward defence in the Baltic region,” she noted.

Forward defence is a strategic concept that calls for containing or repulsing military aggression as close to the original line of contact as possible so as to defend the entire territory of a country.

Kaja Kallas at a press conference with the US secretary general, Antony Blinken, in Tallinn on 8 March 2022. Photo by the Stenbock House.

Answering to a question by Fox News, Kallas added that for defending itself, Estonia needed to enhance its “defence posture”. “So far, it has been a deterrence posture [in Estonia], but we have to have the defence posture. It means we have the troops, the capabilities – but also the practice of all of them working together. It means we need more military exercises on the ground,” she said.

Blinken, for his part, reiterated that the US and NATO “will defend every inch of the NATO territory”.

Read also: Live updates: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – reactions in Estonia.

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