Just as Estonia had to choose in 2003 whether to join the US in attacking Iraq, while many EU nations refused, Estonia again must pick sides on the question of military aid to Ukraine, says Diplomaatia magazine chief Erkki Bahovski.
“Then (in 2003) Eastern Europe backed the United States, while many Western European nations, including Germany, were against invading Iraq,” he told ERR.
“Estonia found itself between the United States and Western Europe and had to pick sides. Hopefully Estonia will be able to avoid similar scenario now,” Bahovski said.
The difference between the two conflicts is that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, while the involvement of Russian troops in the war against Ukraine is clearly evident, Bahovski said, adding that unlike with Saddam Hussein, no one is giving Russian President Vladimir Putin ultimatum or talking about removing him from power.
For Estonia, the important thing is that the West does not fall into divisions, he said. He added that giving military help to Ukraine would benefit Ukraine and help Estonia increase its own security. “But that security could suffer in the long-term, if the West does not find unity and Estonia is forced to make a decision."
He said it would be naïve to hope that Finland and Germany backtrack on the decision not to send military help to Ukraine.
Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said this week that military aid should be sent to Ukraine, the argument also put forward by many senior US diplomats and politicians. Estonian politicians have had mixed reactions, ranging from fully supporting the idea, to giving only non-lethal aid, such as bullet proof vests and helmets, to focusing only on Estonia's own defense capabilities.
The US government has so far said that it is thinking about this possibility, while Germany and Finland have been among the EU nations opposed to the idea. A recent meeting of six EU foreign ministers in Estonia ruled out military aid on a EU-level, but said that each nation can decide on the question individually.
Editor: J.M. Laats