“When I became ambassador to Canada, I presented my credentials to a governor-general named Hnatyshyn who didn’t speak a word of Ukrainian,” Toomas Hendrik Ilves said this morning in a will-wonders-never-cease tone of voice. Estonia’s president is a keen student of history and irony. He’s had to rely on both lately as his worst fear — a newly expansionist Russia — annexed part of Ukraine and NATO hastily bulked up its presence in Central and Eastern Europe to ensure Vladimir Putin goes no further.
American-educated, a class valedictorian at his New Jersey high school, Ilves has far greater clout than his limited powers in a tiny country would indicate. He gets it by speaking, writing (and tweeting), eloquently and forcefully, about the dangers of life in Russia’s neighbourhood. He spoke to Maclean’s political editor Paul Wells this morning in the presidential palace in Tallinn.