Salm: Easier to make decisions now West's heart has hardened against Russia

Defense Ministry Secretary General Kusti Salm.
Defense Ministry Secretary General Kusti Salm. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Now that the war in Ukraine has been going on for some time, the West has realized that expelling Russian troops from Ukraine is the best outcome, Secretary General of the Ministry of Defense Kusti Salm said on Thursady. Estonia is also planning to send more weapons to Ukraine.

Salm said the Western response to Russian aggression has been inert - almost impossible at first, but fast-moving when things start to happen.

"The most important news for me today came from the British government, which said that the Russian Federation must be driven out of Ukraine. This has been the position of the Estonian government since the first days of the war," Salm said, during an interview on ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera".

He said the West's position is starting to solidify as it is now understood what will benefit it the most.

"Before, there was a lot of self-censorship because the rumor that the supply of weapons is an escalation was not driven by the Russian Federation, but by the West itself. Now that the war has been going on for some time, attention is waning, but hearts are hardening and decisions are made more easily. That's all we see," he said.

Talking about how other countries are helping Ukraine, Salm said earlier this week, defense ministers from 40 countries attended a meeting in Ramstein, Germany.

"I don't want to expand upon it here, but there are many counties over which we can be surprised about the amount of aid they are actually giving. Not all of this is made public, of course," Salm said.

The official said he is not optimistic about the success of newly announced humanitarian corridors for civilians trapped at Mariupol's Azovstal plant, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hoped to reach an agreement on during a visit to Kyiv on Thursday.

"Living next to the Russian Federation has taught us not to believe anything until it has happened, and the war in Ukraine has confirmed it and taught us not to believe anything until it has happened. Neither has happened and I would not get my hopes too high," he said.

Salm said Russia's war in Ukraine is currently at a standstill.

"The Ukrainians are fighting bravely, but this is the darkest hour of the war for them. It is also difficult for the Russian Federation because they are unable to assemble new units. Two thousand soldiers have been recruited from prisons to assemble battle groups," said Salm, he added this shows the Russians are in a bad situation but it does not necessarily mean things will become easier for the Ukrainians.

Estonia has been sending military aid to Ukraine for several months and is still planning to send more.

"In the beginning, we gave more because we had more to give. Now we have to figure it out: we're talking here about ammunition, cooperation with allies and an additional opportunity to send artillery," said Salm.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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