The Parliament's National Defense Committee Chairman Marko Mihkelson said Russian President Vladimir Putin's message to the West, at his annual state of the nation address, was that he will not take a step back in the confrontation with the West.
Mihkelson told ERR that a year ago, the enemy was Ukraine and now it is Turkey, adding that the opposition to NATO is an ever-present theme.
“It is clear that Turkey has become public enemy number one for Russian leaders and this had to be emphasized in the speech,” he said.
He said Putin left an impression in his speech that he was ready to escalate events in Syria, rather than step back. “Putin attempted to show in the address how Russia is at the forefront of war against international terrorism,” Mihkelson said, adding that Putin demanded a broad coalition against terrorism, one in which Russia would play the leading role.
“The message to Western nations was that we will do what we want and if you want to join in, then you can,” Mihkelson said.
He added that it is noteworthy how Putin did not mention Ukraine, EU or NATO even once, and only once mentioned the US, when saying the problems in the Middle East come from indecisive politics by the West and the United States.
“Of course it is somewhat surprising that he did not say one word on Ukraine, although he mentioned Crimea. This does not mean that earlier words on Ukraine have been forgotten,” he said.
“Russia is by no means ready to drop its base behavior – forceful and aggressive foreign policy, this has become the norm and Putin signaled that others must get used to it,” he said, adding that economic hardship in Russia has no impact on foreign policy moves.
Editor: J.M. Laats