Estonian PM: Biggest sanctions losers will be ordinary Russian consumers

Taavi Roivas
Taavi Rõivas [Estonian Government]

EU sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis will hurt Russian consumers, but Moscow's retaliatory food import ban will have little effect on Estonian food producers, says Taavi Rõivas, the Estonian prime minister.

Taavi Rõivas, the leader of Estonia’s Reform Party, was nominated as prime minister last March, after serving as the conutry’s social affairs minister for two years. At 34, he is the youngest government leader in the EU. He was talking to Euractiv.Cz’s Jan Pavec, during a press meeting in Tallinn, Estonia.

What result are you expecting from the sanctions that the EU has imposed on Russia?

There would not have been any sanctions without a belief that sanctions would lead to a de-escalation of the conflict. Their aim is to force Russia not to get involved in Ukrainian business anymore. I hope that Putin does not want [to inflict] such an economic sacrifice on the Russian people. I am persuaded that the biggest sacrifice will be made by ordinary Russian consumers. We can hardly imagine a situation in which Russian shops have no food from the EU, Australia and the United States. It will end in rows of empty shelves, a lack of choice and, probably, higher food prices too. This has already been happening because of the Rouble’s devaluation. Russian consumers will suffer heavily from what the Russian president has done.

Sanctions will have an impact on agriculture in many EU countries. But a lot of them have known since the 90s that doing business with Russia potentially carries very high profits but also tremendous risks. We are not happy that we had to impose sanctions on Russia but we had no choice. All the terms we gave were not met, and Russia offered no explanations.

Is there still a chance for dialogue between the two sides in the conflict?

Dialogue is always a positive thing, but we have to keep in mind that one country is intervening in another country’s affairs. The keys for a solution to the conflict are in the hands of Vladimir Putin.

What are the figures for Estonian exports to Russia? Is Estonia going to ask for financial help to cope with Russia's retaliatory food import ban?

Exports to Russia make up 8.4% of our total export market. Russia is our third biggest export partner. It takes 19% of our agricultural agricultural exports. But half of it is re-exported food, and especially alcohol. So it is less than one tenth overall - and one fifth of our dairy products. It is quite insignificant.

Are you afraid that a similar crisis to the eastern Ukraine could happen in Estonia?

The Estonian situation is totally different. We are a member of NATO, which is the strongest military alliance in the world. I do not see an imminent threat, but I see an ambition for empire.

Do you believe that in such a case, NATO would stand up for Estonia?

If any village on NATO’s border were successfully attacked without a response, it would be the end of NATO. No-one would trust this organization again. I am 100 % sure that NATO takes its commitment to defend all of its allies very seriously.



Jay's picture

Sanctioned goods as a share of GDP in percents.

Reliant on Russian gas

Lithuania.......0.6 100%
Estonia.........0.45 100%
Lativia.........0.35 100%
Poland..........0.28 59%
Norway..........0.25 0
Finland.........0.18 100%

Sources: IMF and Bloomberg

Jay's picture

European powers, rocked by the Great Recession and Euro zone crisis, have responded by systematically shedding military force structure and capabilities that were inadequate even before the debt crisis. For many years U.S. officials have complained about Europe’s failure to live up to its defense responsibilities. Of NATO’s 28 member countries, for instance, only a few even come close the alliance’s stated goal of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense, and the NATO average is 1.5 percent. While the United Kingdom, France and Greece almost meet their alliance commitment, other major countries such as Germany, Italy and the Netherlands are perpetual laggards.

European allies have cut their military forces dramatically, with Britain and France reducing warships to the point that they have contemplated having to share a single aircraft carrier. The United Kingdom, traditionally the closest and most reliable U.S. military partner, has so reduced the readiness and size of its ground forces that U.S. officials worry they may no longer be agile or capable enough to operate alongside their U.S. counterparts to the degree they did in Iraq and Afghanistan. Under current plans Britain plans to reduce its regular ground forces to just 82,000 troops, representing the smallest British army since the Battle of Waterloo. Germany is in the process of reducing its armed forces from 250,000 in 2010 to 185,000 active duty planned for in 2017. The Dutch have eliminated heavy tank forces altogether.

Jay's picture

The removal of the last remaining 22 tanks of the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade at Grafenwöhr, Germany has just been completed. Two German-based U.S. Army brigades were just inactivated, and another is currently being disbanded.

At the end of the day, anyone in the Baltic countries counting on NATO should just go ahead and bend over, kiss your bum goodbye.

Jay's picture

"The keys for a solution to the conflict are in the hands of Vladimir Putin."

The late US Congressional Senator Daniel Moynihan famously said: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not to his own facts.” The new cold war way of thinking that is accepted as true or correct rests almost entirely on lies.

Lie: The only way out of the crisis is for Putin to end his “aggression” and call off his agents in southeastern Ukraine.

Fact: The underlying causes of the crisis are Ukraine’s own internal divisions, not primarily Putin’s actions. The primary factor escalating the crisis since May has been Kiev’s “anti-terrorist” military campaign against its own citizens, now mainly in the Donbass cities of Luhansk and Donetsk. Putin influences and no doubt aids the Donbass “self-defenders.” Considering the pressure on him in Moscow, he is likely to continue to do so, perhaps even more, but he does not control them. If Kiev’s assault ends, Putin probably can compel the rebels to negotiate. But only the Obama administration can compel Kiev to stop, and it has not done so.

Martin444's picture

How much money Putin pays you to write all this crap in every thread related to Russia?

Jay's picture

I have been repeatedly assailed as Putin’s No. 1 American “apologist,” “useful idiot,” “dupe,” “best friend” so forth and so on. I expected to be criticized but none of these character assassins present any factual refutations of anything I have written or said.

Now if you will excuse me, I’m waiting for Washington's approval affirming the right to breath oxygen.

Jay's picture

You might think a story about modern-day Nazi storm troopers attacking a European city without mercy would merit front-page coverage in the German press, but not when the Nazi paramilitaries are fighting for the EU/US backed Ukrainian government and are killing ethnic Russians. Ukraine's National Guardsmen, Azov Battalion, uses the Wolfsangel flag, a symbol used by Adolf Hitler’s SS divisions in World War II. Both the nigga in the white house and the cunt in the beer-hall have no moral objections, just kill Russian women and children is their motto operandi.

Martin444's picture

Watch Hitler's actions in Czechoslovakia and Poland + then watch Putin's actions in Ukraine and then try to see if you can see some correlations there, if you wanted to talk about Nazis.

Jay's picture

Lie: There exists a nation called “Ukraine” and a “Ukrainian people” who yearn to escape centuries of Russian influence and to join the West.

Fact: As every informed person knows, Ukraine is a country long divided by ethnic, linguistic, religious, cultural, economic and political differences, primarily in it's western and eastern regions. When the current crisis began in 2013, Ukraine had one state, but it was not a single people or a united nation. Some of these divisions were made worse after 1991 by corrupt elite, but most of them had developed over centuries.

Putin is not active in Ukraine per se, he is reactive to the west's moving NATO closer to his borders.

Hey, Russia has not been my enemy since the fall of the USSR - which brings me to another of the west's many lies.

Lie: Ever since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, Washington has treated post-Communist Russia generously as a desired friend and partner, making every effort to help it become a democratic, prosperous member of the Western system of international security. Unwilling or unable, Russia rejected this western altruism, emphatically under Putin.

Fact: Beginning in the 1990s, again with the Clinton administration, every American president, congress, and NATO ally leader has treated post-Soviet Russia as a defeated nation with inferior legitimate rights at home and abroad.

Jay's picture

To Martin444,

The New York Times reported almost in passing on Sunday that the Ukrainian government’s offensive against ethnic Russian rebels in the east has unleashed far right paramilitary militias that have even raised a neo-Nazi banner over the conquered town of Marinka, just west of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk.

That might seem like a big story, a U.S. backed military operation, which has inflicted thousands of mostly civilian casualties, is being spearheaded by neo-Nazis. But the consistent pattern of the mainstream U.S. news media has been, since the start of the Ukraine crisis, to white-out the role of Ukraine’s brown-shirts.

Only occasionally is the word “neo-Nazi” mentioned and usually in the context of dismissing this inconvenient truth as “Russian propaganda.”

Jay's picture

To Marten444, Ahead of Obama's visit to the Baltic countries to discuss NATO's commitments, I found this interesting bit of news, provided hostilities don't go past thirty days, you may find it reassuring.

The Marine Corps Stores Huge Amounts Of Armor And Weaponry In Norwegian Caves

The official US Marine Corps comment

Jay's picture

Nationalists in the west of Ukraine were among the most enthusiastic supporters heavily engaged in Nazi collaboration during WWII. Today, from this same geographical area of Ukraine springs the Ukrainian neo-nazi Azov brigade proudly carrying their Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbol on their banner. Members of the battalion are openly white supremacists and anti-Semites. The interior ministry and private donors provide weapons, their HQ is a seaside dacha compound that once belonged to the ousted president of Ukraine, Vladimir Yanukovych.

Another extremist combatant brigade headed by amateur boxer, Mr Biletsk, of the Ukrainian group called the Social National Assembly is on a historic mission to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen - (subhumans).”

Against the background of this evil, President Putin has my 100% support.

If any president or chancellor of any country thinks they can spit on the graves of the brave men and women that gave their lives to rid this world of Nazism and support the neo-nazi's and Social National Assembly extremists in Ukraine should prepare themselves for a audience in hell with the devil.

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