Ilves: Poland should participate in meeting between Russia and NATO allies

Former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
Former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Although U.S. President Joe Biden did not say which major NATO members he would like to involve in a meeting with him and Russian president Vladimir Putin to discuss Moscow's worries with NATO expansion, one of those countries should certainly be Poland, former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves told ERR.

"The statement does not say, which countries specifically, but they usually are Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy. Perhaps they can substitute Italy, which has quite little to do with Russia and their issues when compared to Poland," Ilves said.

"If Biden does not involve Poland as a large, major and powerful NATO member, I believe he will repeat the mistake [former German chancellor Angela] Merkel and [French president Emmanuel] Macron made in the summer. You need a country like Poland to discuss Russia," the former president emphasized.

Ilves criticized Merkel and Macron for wanting to arrange a meeting with Vladimir Putin during the summer without consulting with their eastern neighbors first. "It was a failure. And I would say it damaged Merkel's reputation in the European Union's eastern countries," Ilves said.

Responding to a question about Biden's call with eastern European leaders on Thursday and whether it has more to do with informing or discussing, Ilves said: "Rather, he wants to pick up ideas and thoughts, he wants a lay of the land to see what the people over there in intermediate Europe, between the West and Russia, think," Ilves said.

Joe Biden held a videocall with Vladimir Putin on Tuesday and came out with a statement on Wednesday, in which he said he would like to arrange a meeting between major NATO allies and Russia to discuss the Russian president's worries over the alliance's expansion.

"We hope by Friday we are going to be able to say and announce to you that we are having meetings at a higher level, not just with us but with at least four of our major NATO allies and Russia to discuss the future of Russia's concerns relative to NATO writ large and whether or not we can work out any accommodations as it relates to bringing down the temperature along the eastern front," Biden said on Wednesday, according to the White House.

Russia has amassed more than 90,000 troops near Ukraine's borders, the BBC reported. U.S. and Ukrainian intel has suggested that Russia is preparing to invade the country, which is currently aiming to join western and European alliances and institutions.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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