ERR journalists Anvar Samost and Huko Aaspõllu discussed tensions on the Ukrainian border and the West's reaction to steps taken by Russia on the Vikerraadio "Samost ja Aaspõllu" talk show.
Samost described U.S. President Joe Biden's recent statement on reactions to potential steps by Russia as something the American president should not permit themselves.
"The concern of Ukraine and of many NATO allies over such a statement is understandable. From Ukraine's point of view, it could be interpreted as a blinking green light for Russia to carry out smaller transgressions to which severe consequences will not follow, even though the White House smoothed it over later," the host suggested.
Samost said that a "minor incursion" could see Russia move the barbed wire barricade a meter into Ukrainian territory as it has been doing in Georgia for years. "And it is a legitimate question – whether USA and NATO should take very serious steps or try to negotiate first if that barricade is moved," he said.
Aaspõllu said that the fact of the matter is that Russian troops have been in Ukraine since 2014, with Samost adding that Russia is under relatively serious sanctions as a result.
"The American president should not voice sudden thoughts in this manner, it is a problem. Occupying and annexing Ukraine is not Russia's strategic goal today. Instead, it is to sow doubt and suspicion in the West, muddy its strategic view, undermine allied relations, all manner of uncertainty. And every week we see Russia achieve a little something in those terms," Samost said.
Aaspõllu said that open war breaking out in Ukraine is unlikely. "Russia has moved some 100,000 troops and a lot of machinery to the Ukraine border. Is it capable of conquering the country with it? Rather not," the host said.
He also said that Russia is not acting based on a clear and carefully considered plan but is rather being opportunistic.
Estonia sends a strong message by offering Ukraine weapons
Samost described Germany's actions over the last week as far more worrying that Biden's press conference or Emmanuel Macron's European Parliament speech. "Germany, through various institutions, has clearly conducted itself in line with Russia's strategic interest to sow distrust in NATO and between allies," he said.
Samost said that Germany needs to be told that its choices are not in accordance with allied relations or with Germany's own strategic interests.
"Germany blocking allied weapons shipments, its foreign minister talking about joint hydrogen projects with Russia and top-ranking military leaders suggesting Putin needs to be respected and Crimea belongs to Russia. It is unacceptable, while we must tell the Germans as much," the host said.
Aaspõllu said that it has been Germany's approach not to send weapons into conflict zones. "Looking at their Ukraine actions, they pledged a field hospital that should mitigate their refusal to send arms."
Russia might not be the existential threat it is for its neighbors in the eyes of Germany, Aaspõllu noted.
Samost described the decision by Estonia and its Baltic neighbors to send Ukraine weapons as the right move. "What matters is that it sends a very strong diplomatic message. It is where actions send a message. We are not simply making high-sounding statements in support of Ukraine. We are sending them weapons that can be used to disable Russian tanks," he said.
"It is effective diplomacy. Estonia has made an extraordinarily strong and the right move," Samost said.
Editor: Marcus Turovski