EDF commander: We are becoming more like Israel, in current situation

Martin Herem.
Martin Herem. Source: ERR

The example of Estonia in military aid to Ukraine not only means the country is undergoing a period of 'Israelization' in relation to its defense forces and their standing, but also points to what could be achieved in bringing Russia's invasion of Ukraine to a standstill, if only other, larger countries would provide proportionately the same aid, Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) chief Lieutenant General Martin Herem said Sunday.

Appearing on ETV politics discussion show "Esimene stuudio" Sunday night, Herem said that he hoped the recent footage of atrocities committed in Bucha and in Irpin, towns near Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, might spur other western nations into sending more military aid.

Due to Estonia's location, this meant that an awareness of the Russian threat never really goes away, while it also has the effect of making the EDF more and more like the IDF – Israel's defense forces, Herem went on. "When you live right next to Russia, you have to do these things. In the West, where people live just that much further from Russia, pretty much everyone fails to understand, but hopefully they'll wake up."

"We are becoming more and more like Israel. They are very proud of their national defense, and we can already be very proud today too, and set an example for many western nations," Herem added.

As to potential military aid, Herem said that a lot of heavier weaponry is needed, but Estonia is not able to provide it, even as supplies of Javelin anti-tank missiles had been a noteworthy success.

"Ukraine would certainly be saved by being armed better," he added, noting that this refers to land, sea and air.

"Otherwise, it will be very difficult for them to take back anything from Russia or to defend anything against Russia," Herem added, noting that Russia may be ready soon to conduct major operations in the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine.

Taking control of that are and building a "land bridge" between that and the Crimea, and increasing control of the Black Sea coast as a whole, would have a deleterious effect on Ukraine's morale and position at the negotiating table, he added.

"Russia could subsequently prove itself via some smaller and more successful goals. But the list of countries where they can test themselves is not very long, as we know," Herem went on.

In the longer term perspective, Herem warned of escalation even to Estonia's neighborhood in a couple of years, not least if the west pressurizes Ukraine to negotiate, leaving Russia with more territory under its control than was the case on February 23 and giving it the message that that way of conducting things works out.

"I have no further comment to make on the contribution from other countries [to Ukraine]. While Estonia said in December what it would provide, and what it has provided since then via land and air, then how other countries deliver is up to them," Herem added.

Israel's IDF is one of the more influential militaries from among world democracies in terms of its place in society and culture in that country. It also makes use of conscription, including of women.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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