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Estonia allocates more than $15 million in additional annual development aid for Ukraine

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 19, 2024 3:17 PM 2 min read
President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (L) exchange signed documents before a press conference in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, on April 24, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Genya Savilov/AFP via Getty Images)
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Estonia has allocated an additional 14 million euros ($15.2 million) in development aid for Ukraine to be disbursed annually, the Estonian media outlet ERR reported on Jan. 19, citing Mariin Ratnik, Estonia's Undersecretary for Development Aid.

Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia have been among Kyiv's staunchest supporters against Russian aggression, committing the highest gross domestic product (GDP) shares of all the allies. Estonian President Alar Karis pledged earlier in January to allocate 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) for Kyiv through 2027.

Ratnik said that the bulk of the additional aid announced on Jan. 19 would be used for development through the Estonian Center for International Development (ESTDEV), while one million euros ($1.09 million) would be set aside for humanitarian aid.

An additional 200,000 euros ($218,000) will be earmarked for Estonian businesses working in Ukraine.

Citing information from the World Bank, ESTDEV CEO Klen Jaarats said that more than 400 billion euros ($435 billion) would likely be required for Ukraine's reconstruction, meaning that Estonia's donation "is a valuable, but very small, contribution."

Beyond supporting Ukraine, Estonia has taken active steps to contribute to Russia's isolation and curbing Russian malign influence in the country, which has a significant minority of ethnic Russians.

Estonian authorities announced on Jan. 18 that they had not renewed the residence permit of Metropolitan Eugene, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate's branch in Estonia. Despite warnings from authorities, Metropolitan Eugene (also known as Valery Reshetnikov) continued to voice support for Russia's war against Ukraine.

"Reshetnikov's actions pose a threat to security," authorities said. The non-renewal of his residence permit means that Metropolitan Eugene must leave the country by Feb. 6.

Ukraine has long accused the Moscow Patriarchate's representatives in Ukraine of serving as the Kremlin's propaganda arm in the war.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) placed Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, on a wanted list in December 2023. Patriarch Kirill is a staunch supporter of Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Russia's war against Ukraine.

According to the Soviet archives, the bishop was a KGB agent and spied on Switzerland in the 1970s, using his role as an official representative at the World Council of Churches.

Estonia also announced on Jan. 18 that it was ending its legal assistance agreement with Russia, lowering cooperation on judicial matters to the level of all other third-party countries.

“One of the preconditions for the agreement is trust in the legal system of the other country and we have no trust in Russia," said Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna.

Previously, Estonia and Russia had an agreement stemming from the 1990s on mutual assistance with criminal and common law cases.

Estonian PM: ‘Our taxpayers shouldn’t pay for damages caused by Russia’
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Estonia has been one of Ukraine’s most reliable allies since the onset of Russia’s full-scale invasion. A small Baltic country of just 1.3 million people that also shares a border with Russia, Estonia has provided
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