Russia's partial military mobilization shows President Vladimir Putin is preparing for a long war, said Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) on Tuesday.
He told ETV's "Ringvaade" TV shows that the mobilization of several hundred thousand Russian men, announced earlier today, will not affect the course of the war in any way.
"The Ukrainians will certainly continue the counter-offensive. It certainly sends a signal that Western countries should look at their stockpiles quicker and send aid to Ukraine as soon as possible, both weapons and winter aid – tents, clothes, heaters, etc. ," Pevkur said.
He said it depends on Putin's aim as to when the recruits will reach the frontline.
The minister said Russia is preparing for a long war.
"If the goal is only to send cannon fodder there, then it is possible to gather the men immediately, put them on a train and send them to Ukraine and send them to the units where there are shortages today, which there clearly are," he said.
"[But] If Russia wants to form combat-capable units from them, it will take several months. And now, during these [next] several months, we have to take into account that winter is coming. Or rather, the conclusion that we have from this mobilization is that Russia is preparing for a very long war and all of western society and the democratic world must be ready for this, that Russia is already preparing for its next steps in this war, for spring and beyond," added the minister of defense. He added fierce battles may continue in the spring.
But he does not believe Russia will try and call up Russian citizens living in Estonia due to where their loyalties lie and that it may be difficult to do in practice.
Additionally, Pevkur does not think Estonia will accept Russian citizens fleeing the call-up. He said men have already started trying to leave the country via the Finnish border.
The government has asked the police and Border Guard Board to keep an eye on activities at the Estonian and Finnish borders in the coming days, he said.
Nuclear threats: Putin blames others for everything he does
The minister said Putin's nuclear weapons threat is a classic example of the leader blaming everyone else for things he does.
Pevkur said Russia currently has 100 soldiers guarding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, effectively holding it hostage.
"Normally, when someone uses a nuclear threat to achieve their political goals, it's called terrorism," the minister said.
He said Putin is threatening to use a nuclear weapon because he has not achieved his strategic goals.
"They have been beaten back from Kharkiv. Their strategic goal has been destroyed. Their biggest strategic goal, which is to split NATO and break the unity of the Western countries, has failed. Instead of splitting NATO, the result today is that NATO is stronger than ever before and Finland and Sweden are also joining NATO. This is the complete opposed to the strategic goals that Russia has always had," he said.
Pevkus said nothing can be ruled out, but he hopes Putin's threats are just empty words.
"In the case of this war and Putin, we cannot rule anything out in the end. It was thought that the war would not come, it came in the end. It was thought that there would be no mobilization, it came in the end. So we have to be ready, but our best answer is to help the Ukrainian armed forces and for Ukraine to succeed and win this war," he said.
Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright