Estonia has proposed that part of energy payments to Russia be put aside to pay for the costs of Ukraine’s recovery, the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets told journalists on Friday.
“Russia must be held accountable for the devastating destruction they have caused and the war crimes they have committed in Ukraine,” she said, speaking alongside her French, Lithuanian and Latvian counterparts in Tallinn, Estonia.
Liimets added that assets frozen as part of sanctions against Russia could also be used “as a source of recovery funds for Ukrainian cities and infrastructure.”
“The NATO-Russia founding act is obsolete,” she added, calling for a “long-term containment policy,” regarding Russia and a continued policy of non-recognition of Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the details of new European Union sanctions against Russia would be decided “in the coming days,” with the aim to "force Putin to put an end to this crazy aggression.”
Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs added that “a permanent (NATO) forward defense needs to be considered and agreed” upon at the next NATO summit in June 2022. He said the EU should consider “other commodities” beyond the energy sector that the bloc should explore for sanctions against Russia.
Some background: Europe — which gets about 40% of its natural gas from Russia — has recently been making efforts to reduce its reliance on Russian oil and gas.
US President Joe Biden announced a joint task force alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on March 25, which would include the United States supplying Europe with at least 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas in 2022, in partnership with other nations, the White House said.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an ultimatum to "unfriendly" nations to pay for their energy in rubles starting April 1 or risk being cut off from vital supplies.
While the Kremlin today said that Russia will not immediately cut off gas supplies under the new decree, his high-stakes threat still sent shockwaves through Europe, which would struggle to keep its economy running for long without Russian energy.
CNN's Mark Thompson contributed reporting to this post.