EDF commander: There will likely be war in Ukraine soon

Martin Herem.
Martin Herem. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) commander Lt. Gen. Martin Herem considers it likely that Russia will soon launch an armed attack on Ukraine. He does not see a conflict arising on Estonian territory.

"I think [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has not gone crazy in our sense, but he has a plan to go down in history and develop his country in the direction he is currently developing it," Herem told Raadio 2 on Wednesday morning.

He said Russia has sent clear signals about its actions by moving its forces to Ukraine's borders.

The army commander added a Russian attack on Ukraine is so likely at this point that no steps need to be taken to provoke further steps. "I think Ukraine does not need to do anything other than exist at this point, everything is moving toward armed conflict," Herem said.

"[Russia] will find some conflict. They will say there are some weapons there, Ukraine joining NATO will endanger its borders. All these countries are joining NATO for one reason - Russia is dangerous," the EDF commander added.

Herem said Russia's goal is to destroy the sense of security in Europe by showing itself as a big, strong and dangerous country, which needs to be considered in all discussions. This will in turn lead to instability in its neighboring countries and societies.

"I think Russia has a long-term plan to keep its neighbors in a constant [state of] instability," Herem said. "Whether it ends up cutting Ukraine, Moldavia, Georgia or Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania - that does not matter."

No military action toward Estonia noted

At the same time, the EDF commander said Estonians have no need to worry and regular life can continue. "I do not think we will have armed conflict on our territory in the coming months, even if there is a conflict in Ukraine."

"But they might organize some other things to get the attention of the West, such as what we have seen on the Lithuanian, Polish and Latvian borders. Cyberattacks, other kinds of information operations - that is a likely option. I think there is a long way to go before war could break out in Estonia," Herem said.

He said Estonia must support Ukraine and other allies in these situations. "So that guy in the East understands that he cannot work on anyone individually," the army commander said.

Herem believes Ukrainians feel in danger, but it is difficult to analyze how prepared the country is for war. He pointed out that the Ukrainian defense forces have been systematically improved and better armed than six years ago. This includes equipment, catering on the frontline and medical care, if necessary.

But Russia has also improved its military capabilities. "Russia has developed in all directions and has implemented heavy weaponry built in the 1970s and 1980s. They have taken those out of storage and modernized them," Herem said. "It is all scrap iron, but it works terrifically well."


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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