Kremlin Calls EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Nominee a ‘Rabid Russophobe’

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, a known critic of Russia, is set to lead the European Union’s foreign policy later this year.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has expressed concerns about Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’ appointment as the EU’s foreign policy chief, citing her history of strong opposition to Russia. Kallas, officially nominated on Friday, will replace Josep Borrell, pending approval from the newly elected European Parliament, a process widely considered a formality.

“Kallas is well known [in Russia] for her absolutely uncompromising and sometimes even rabid Russophobic statements,” Peskov told reporters on Friday.

Peskov also commented on Ursula von der Leyen, recently nominated for a third term as president of the European Commission, stating that “she is not a proponent of normalization of relations between the EU and Russia.”

“That is what we know her for and that is how we remember her. In this sense, nothing has changed,” Peskov said. 

Several Russian officials have expressed concerns that Kallas’ policies will further escalate tensions. Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, suggested this week that Kallas’ appointment would “increase the level of insanity” in Brussels.

Kallas has consistently advocated for stronger sanctions against Russia and increased military aid for Ukraine. Under her leadership, Estonia became the first EU country to approve a mechanism for seizing frozen Russian assets and using them as “compensation” for Ukraine.

In a 2022 opinion piece published in The New York Times, Kallas called for “a long-term policy of smart containment” of Moscow, which includes unwavering support for Ukraine, sanctions on Russian oil and gas trade, and increased military spending among EU members.

Kallas’ appointment as the EU’s chief diplomat comes at a time when the bloc is struggling to procure sufficient weapons for Ukraine, and the outcome of the 2024 US presidential election remains uncertain. Brussels will also face challenges with Hungary and Slovakia, whose governments have expressed criticism of the EU’s approach to the conflict in Ukraine.