Estonian Foreign Minister Urges Use of Russia’s Frozen Assets for Ukraine; Democracy ‘Not Granted’ in Today’s World

The Japan News
Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna speaks at a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday.

Efforts to promptly support Ukraine are indispensable, including taking steps to supply ammunition and exploring methods to utilize Russia’s frozen assets, Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna said at a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Reflecting on Estonia’s half-century of rule by the Soviet Union, and Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine, Tsahkna said, “We believe that it cannot happen again in the 21st century, but unfortunately, it is … at the moment.”

He also voiced the tension the Baltic nation is feeling given Estonia’s geographical proximity to Russia, saying: “Freedom is not granted. Democracy is not granted in today’s world.”

Acknowledging Japan’s legal and historical background, the foreign minister said both nations could seek to cooperate in supporting Ukraine in areas such as cybersecurity, reconstruction and financial matters.

He stressed Ukraine’s desperate need for ammunition and weapons to support its defense efforts, saying: “We know what Ukraine needs desperately right now. This is ammunition. This is weapons.”

Tsahkna also noted that, although the matter is not being actively discussed in Japan, Estonia is leading the initiative on how to utilize frozen Russian assets, both public and private, totaling billions of euros to provide Ukraine with military support and help improve the nation’s situation.

After referring to this possible approach, Tsahkna said: “We need to support Ukraine right now. Because it is the cheapest, most efficient way to stand for our values, stand for freedom.”

With regard to Japan-Estonian cooperation, the minister expressed high hopes for sharing Estonia’s expertise as one of the world’s leaders in information technology.

Referring to a bilateral agreement in which Estonia will host an official from Japan’s Digital Agency this year, Tsahkna said that the Japanese official “can witness very closely how we are making wonders in digital security.”

The Estonian government was recently under a heavy cyberattack organized by Russia, which the minister said demonstrated “the level of cyber defense and security that we can do on the governmental level. This is an expertise that we are ready to share with our allies.”