Kallas: NATO defense posture doesn't mean Estonia under direct threat

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) on ETV's
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) on ETV's "Esimene stuudio" on Tuesday night. March 1, 2022. Source: ERR

While NATO has shifted from a deterrence to a defense posture, this does not mean that Estonia, for example, is now under direct threat by Russia; rather, it means that preparations are underway in case an actual threat should materialize, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said on ETV's "Esimene stuudio" on Tuesday night.

"This means that [the alliance is] working toward being prepared to defend NATO territory," Kallas said. "This does not mean that there is a direct threat at our borders. But we must be prepared for this, and for short-term scenarios. And know that our allies are prepared to defend us."

NATO allies are prepared to offer Estonia various capabilities, including air defense capabilities, she added.

According to the prime minister, allies at last Friday's NATO summit each offered what they are prepared to do to strengthen the alliance's eastern flank. Kallas added that she spoke with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday, who confirmed that the U.S. is sending additional resources to both the Ukraine and the EU.

Speaking about the current situation in Ukraine, Kallas said that all signs were indicating that Russia is becoming increasingly brutal in its attacks. "Russia's behavior is indicating that they are using even more brutal tactics, as their initial attacks haven't delivered results, which has been an unpleasant surprise for Russia," she said.

Nobody had high hopes for any solutions to be reached, Kallas said about the first round of talks between Ukraine and Russia on Monday. Subsequent rounds are expected to follow, however, and she noted that some bigger country shouldn't be taking Ukraine's place in these negotiations.

"We don't want talks to start taking place at some higher level, such as between Russia and the U.S., where something is offered that may seem small [to big countries] but for which we will end up paying dearly," Kallas said.

The prime minister believes that bringing up nuclear weapons is just Russia's attempt to sow fear in the West.

"It seems to me that this threatening is still directed at the Western world — to strike fear and to get scared Western countries to offer something in order to avert this," she explained. "This fear is what they want, and we cannot give this to Putin or Russia."

Ukraine on Monday submitted a formal application for joining the EU. According to Kallas, it is important to show Ukraine that the EU is taking Ukraine's wish seriously.

"I pushed this [message] that Ukraine needs some kind of hope at the meeting of EU prime ministers," she said. "Negotiations take time; you have to make reforms and so on, but the message that we need to give Ukraine — who is actually fighting for Europe and our values — is hope: 'Yes, we are with you, and you are part of our family, even if the legal steps will take time.'"


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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