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Russia declares Estonian PM Kaja Kallas a 'wanted' person; what are the charges?

In a startling turn of events, the Russian Interior Ministry has placed Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas on its wanted list, marking the first instance of Russia opening a criminal case against a sitting foreign head of state.

BREAKING Russia declares Estonia's PM Kaja Kallas a 'wanted' person
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First Published Feb 13, 2024, 2:19 PM IST

In a startling turn of events, Russia on Tuesday placed Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas on its wanted list, marking the first instance of Russia opening a criminal case against a sitting foreign head of state. The website of Russia's interior ministry listed Kallas in their database under the category of individuals "wanted under the criminal code."

The revelation came to light after the publication "Mediazona" leaked the full wanted database of the Russian Interior Ministry, exposing the names of several high-profile Baltic and Polish officials targeted by Russian authorities. Alongside Prime Minister Kallas, Estonian State Secretary Taimar Peterkop, Lithuanian Culture Minister Simonas Kairys, and members of the Latvian Saeima are also being sought.

Additionally, two Polish officials and the director of the Institute of National Memory of Poland have been included in the Russian Interior Ministry's wanted list.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov clarified that Kallas and the other Baltic lawmakers were placed on the wanted list due to their perceived hostile actions against Russia and their alleged involvement in the "desecration of historical memory."

"These are people who take hostile actions against historical memory and our country," Peskov told reporters.

A Russian security source, speaking anonymously to Russia's state-run TASS news agency, disclosed that the three were facing prosecution for their alleged role in "destroying monuments to Soviet soldiers" during World War II.

Kallas has notably been a vocal supporter of Ukraine following Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022, emerging as a prominent advocate within both the European Union and NATO for increased arms support to Ukraine.

Kallas recently issued a stark warning, asserting that the conflict in Ukraine will persist until Russia acknowledges the futility of its ambitions for victory. Kallas urged Ukraine's Western allies to maintain their unwavering support, both militarily and financially. Emphasizing Russia's readiness for a protracted confrontation, Kallas cautioned against falling into the traps set by the Kremlin.

Speaking to the Austrian news outlet Der Standard, Kallas underscored the importance of vigilance and steadfastness in navigating the complexities of the ongoing crisis.

“It is a mistake to believe that the war can be won quickly,” she added.

Kallas emphasizes that engaging in peace negotiations with Moscow doesn't guarantee tranquility, cautioning that yielding to Russia's territorial ambitions would only satisfy its demands without ensuring lasting peace.

The prime minister stressed that succumbing to fear of Russia would only serve to provoke the Kremlin further.

“Weakness provokes Russia, not strength," she said.

Amidst growing concerns about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the stability of Western aid to the country remains uncertain. With Ukraine now entering its third year of war, questions arise regarding the longevity of support from Western nations.

Notably, the United States has been a key ally, providing substantial assistance to Ukraine. However, the situation has taken a concerning turn as military aid was suspended on December 6, following the US Senate's failure to approve the bill for financing aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

Recently, a delegation comprising representatives from Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, and Lithuania visited the US Congress to reinforce ongoing support for Ukraine. Despite these efforts, no agreement was reached, and the aid remains blocked. In light of this, Kallas urged Western nations to persist in supporting Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression.

“We have to believe in a Ukrainian victory, not the narrative that Russia will win anyway. Russia wants us to believe that Ukraine cannot win, so we stop supporting it," Kallas expressed.

When questioned about her concerns regarding the possibility of the US turning away from Europe in the event of former American President Donald Trump's reelection, she emphasized that elections are inherently turbulent periods. Kallas stressed the importance for European countries to maintain collaborative efforts with their allies, emphasizing the need to work together regardless of the political leadership elected by the United States.

“We survived when Donald Trump led the United States for the first time. We would survive it this time too if it came to that. But we must do everything we can to defend ourselves now, before these US elections,” said Kallas.

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