On the second day of her visit to Ukraine, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas was acquainted with the situation in the Luhansk Oblast, where, accompanied by Oleksii Reznikov, Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories, she visited two crossing points – the eastern pedestrian crossing point in Stanytsia Luhanska and the newest crossing point in the city of Shchastia, which is the only one that can be crossed by car. So far, Russia has been delaying the opening of their crossing point, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason. Representatives of the Ukrainian army also gave the Estonian prime minister an overview of the current status of military activity.
“In the Europe of today, no one should have to suffer from military conflicts or occupations. All of us – friends and partners of Ukraine – must put an end to it. We have worked hard together with our western partners to take concrete steps in response to Russia’s aggressive actions. The Kremlin must know the price of further escalation,” said Kallas. “The security of Ukraine is the security of all of Europe,” she added.
Representatives of the UNHCR told the Estonian prime minister about the current circumstances of the local population and showed how the restoration of dwellings is taking place in Stanytsia Luhanska, where 70 per cent of buildings were damaged due to warfare. Estonia has been providing financial support to the activities of the UNHCR in Ukraine since 2014.
Kallas also visited the site where extensive forest fires occurred last year and planted a tree in Stanytsia Luhanska to symbolise Estonia’s participation in remedying the consequences of the natural disaster. As airplanes could not be used in putting out the fires in the region of conflict, the damage was significant. Dozens of people died due to the fires. The Estonian Ministry of the Interior and the Estonian Rescue Board have collected equipment to be sent to the rescuers of Luhansk as humanitarian aid.
Development cooperation and humanitarian projects were also discussed during the meeting with Serhiy Haidai, Governor of Luhansk. Among other projects, Estonia has funded the construction of last-mile internet solutions in two villages, which allows providing an internet connection to several schools, libraries, and medical institutions. This gives students the opportunity to learn online and makes the lives of about 14,000 people easier.
“Estonia will continue to support Ukraine in the framework of development cooperation. Our projects will help to decrease educational inequalities in the crisis region. We are supporting the modernising of 16 schools and kindergartens in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. We are providing an internet connection to two villages near Zolote, helping the elderly that have been affected by armed conflicts, and supporting local firefighters,” Kallas described the aid given by Estonia to Ukrainians suffering from armed conflicts.
“I want to be back here when the occupation is over. On that day we can say: this is Europe – whole and free,” she added.
This evening, Kaja Kallas meets with Crimean Tatars in Kiev. Tomorrow, the prime minister will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba.
Contact for local reports:
Adviser to the Prime Minister Maris Lindmäe
Phone: +372 522 2426