Estonian Ambassador hopes Russia sees sense in Crimea

ANKARA - The Estonian Ambassador to Turkey Miko Haljas, in an interview with Anadolu Agency, has said he believes there will be no military action against Russia over its annexation of Crimea, but “whatever the west responds will largely depend on Russia.”

Haljas added that if Russia starts to look to expand further than Crimea, maybe into Transnistria, then “that will be definitely a big escalation of conflicts and disputes.”

“It is very difficult for me to see what Putin’s strategy is; whether his grand strategy is just to annex Crimea or to build something to rival the old Soviet Union. At the end of the day he is the one ultimately taking decisions,” Hajlas said.

Haljas pointed out that NATO has upped its air policing operations over the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as they have no air forces of their own to protect their borders with Russia so the NATO countries, including Turkey, are protecting their air borders on a monthly rotation.

In response to Russia’s violation of international law in Crimea, Haljas emphasized that the EU, including Estonia, should continue to act within its principles and impose further sanctions including economic and arms embargo against Russia.

“Nobody wants the EU to go back into recession because of a dispute with Russia, but we cannot just do nothing,” Haljas said.

However, Haljas pointed out that the next lot of sanctions are unlikely to target energy relations between Russia and Europe as “Russia needs to sell its energy to Europe. So we are not talking about sanctions that would directly affect the energy sector. But we have to be prepared for any eventualities and therefore what is really important is increasing energy interconnections between EU member states. And also new sources of energy should be found.”

Russia provides around one third of the EU's oil and gas and some 40 percent of this gas is exported through Ukraine.

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