Jüri Luik: West has shown unprecedented unity over Ukraine
NATO countries and the West as a whole have shown unprecedented levels of unity over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Estonian ambassador to NATO Jüri Luik says, considering there are 30 member states in the alliance, all with their own special economic and political interests.
While the alliance might not have been as quick and as resolute as would be ideal in its decisions so far, it must be taken into account that the wishes of 30 member states have to be accommodated in these decisions, Luik, a former defense minister, said.
"There are 30 countries in NATO - there are bigger countries, smaller countries, countries in the north, countries in the south etc. It is not viable to create a situation where there is constant consensus on everything."
At the same time, there had been consensus on the Ukraine issue, a unity which Russian dictator Vladimir Putin had underestimate when prosecuting his war.
"Given all the special interests, the West has, however, been completely united. Putin has drastically underestimated the unity of the West, and that is one reason why he is still paying a pretty tough price for this aggression," Luik said.
The last meeting of NATO foreign ministers earlier this month, where a decision was made that Ukraine should be provided with heavier and more modern weapons, represented a breakthrough and a major change in thought and decision-making processes on the part of NATO member states, he added.
Luik said: "Our escalation in terms of the level of armaments is very important. I hope that modern armaments, which, of course, also bring with them a training requirement, will bring qualitative success to the Ukrainian army."
NATO's major leaders have all consistently made it clear that armed conflict with Russia is not going to happen, but that there are other ways to support Ukraine, ranging: "From the exchange of intelligence, which is highly important, to the provision of high-quality armaments – the Javelins and the Stingers – this is already top-notch. It must be taken into account that the Ukrainian army is not a small one – the Ukrainian army is sizeable."
With Russia's concentration in a relatively small proportion of Ukraine's area – in the south and east – equipping Ukraine with weapons and training are needed more than ever, even as other countries sympathetic to Ukraine could see a drain on their own military resources.
"There is also the problem that for western countries, no one has planned for such a World War Two-style conflict. For many countries, the problem is that ammunition is running out, tech is running out. Simply put, the weapons are running out. We are in such a situation. But we have to put out everything we can, in Estonia too. Everything possible."
Luik: Finland and Sweden joining NATO now probable
Luik also agreed that Finland and Sweden joining NATO was a very likely proposition.
"If you ask me if you want a bet on them joining, I believe both will do so and that that won't be far off now," he continued.
This would be good for Estonia, too, he added.
"Whereas before we were only connected [overland] to NATO within the Baltic Sea region via the Suwalki gap (the short stretch of border between Lithuania and Poland – ed.), now the depth of the Baltic States' defense, the opportunity to use air forces, would be substantial. The point is that the entire Baltic Sea region would be surrounded by NATO countries," Luik continued.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte