Europe needs to end its reliance on Russian energy and Germany should accept that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was never just a commercial project, the Estonian prime minister has said in an interview conducted against the backdrop of soaring tensions over Ukraine.
Kaja Kallas also said she detected a wider debate within Germany about its approach to Russia after Angela Merkel’s departure, and that she was waiting for an official response from Berlin on the transfer of Estonian weapons of German-origin to Ukraine.
Germany has a longstanding policy against exporting weapons to conflict zones, which Kallas said she accepted, though she argued that any ban would favour Russian aggression since the weapons were intended for Ukraine’s self-defence.
Her longstanding call for extra troops to be posted in Estonia, including a substantial US presence, is likely to be answered shortly. A group of five F15s landed in Estonia this week, part of a wider strengthening of Nato’s eastern flank. “It is quite a deterrent if you plan an attack on a country where US troops are based. If a big bully is threatening you, it is good to have big friends,” she said.
Kallas said clear signals were now emerging from Germany’s leaders that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany would not go ahead if Russia invades Ukraine, and she said she wanted the pipeline permanently abandoned.
Kaja’s family history is interesting. She is the daughter of the former Estonian prime minister Siim Kallas. Her mother and grandmother spent time in Siberian gulags during the mass Soviet deportations from Estonia during the second world war.