Defense minister: Personally, I support a no-fly zone over Ukraine

Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet.
Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet (Reform) said that he personally supports closing the airspace over Ukraine, while Estonia's final position will be whatever the NATO 30 decide.

"Sending fighters to guard the airspace [over Ukraine] counts toward getting involved in the war. I dare not say which way NATO is leaning today. But if you were to ask my personal opinion, I would take that step. My personal opinion is "yes," Laanet said on the ETV "Terevisioon" morning show.

Asked whether Laanet's personal opinion reflects that of Estonia, the minister said Estonia's position will be based on NATO's common stance.

"We need to consider what the move could involve. Whether the nuclear button under Putin's right hand would stay where it is, or whether he would press down on it. We must be able to foresee all of these steps," Laanet said.

He added that any decision to guard the Ukrainian airspace would require all 30 NATO members to agree.

"It would mean those 30 countries undertaking military activity against the Russian Federation. It would mean Estonia being at war with Putin's Russia. It is being discussed, while it is not an easy call to make. I dare not say it will never be done – perhaps it will one day."

Laanet did not agree when asked whether this hesitation looks like NATO is afraid of Russia, even though it could be the other way around.

"I have been positively surprised by the pace at which NATO and the West have been able to make decisions. If only looking at sanctions, military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine. Two weeks ago, no one would have dared believe such bold decisions could be made so quickly," the minister said.

Laanet added that NATO defense ministers are set to meet on March 16 by which time certain draft resolutions will have been tabled. A NATO foreign ministerial will take place before. Laanet assured that Estonia will maintain its decisive stance of various proposals and warnings regarding the Ukraine crisis.

"While Estonia used to be regarded as alarmist in terms of Russia, today, we are asked whether we have other solutions to propose. Estonia is very much a part of the conversation and has even taken charge in places," Laanet said.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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