Ukraine's military is ultimately going to defeat that of Russia, outgoing chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service (Välisluureamet) said in a lengthy portrait which appeared on the Yahoo portal last Sunday. At the same time, the west should not fear cornering Vladimir Putin – doing so is in fact the only effective way to deal with the Russian leader.
"Ukraine is going to win," told the portal.
"They have to win because for Ukraine, it's an independence war. It's not just a regional conflict, and that's why they are highly motivated," and, while he could not put a time-frame on this result, Marran, who takes up office as director of the state forest management agency, the RMK, said that Russian leader Vladimir Putin's feeding of human resources into the war's "meatgrinder" means that it can be prolonged in this way and through simple stubbornness.
"The Russians are like this, and we shouldn't underestimate their ability to press on when others would give up. The first conscripts who will arrive, or have already arrived, at the war zone are the easiest targets for Ukrainians, but it'll likely be a kind of a Darwinist cycle of events," he went on, adding that those who do survive will indeed be fitter for the task, though will still be heading for defeat, he said.
Calls for Ukraine to entering negotiations are getting things backwards and would send the wrong message to Putin, Marran added and, far from a "cornered" Putin being a more dangerous Putin, bearing in mind talk of the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons, the opposite is the case.
"I would say that it is better for us to see him in the corner than outside of it, where he'll have more options to deal with the west. I think that's what he's hoping for. I would let him stay in the corner," Marran said.
The west meanwhile has the intel and the response capabilities to deal with any actual use of tactical nukes, while nuclear powers China and India would likely respond harshly in that eventuality.
The US tentativeness on sending Ukraine weaponry which would be capable of reaching targets inside Russia, from Ukraine, such as long-range artillery, thus potentially escalating the conflict, is misguided, Marran added.
He said: "I think the West should kind of get over this self-limitation that we should limit the weapons systems or ammunition to 80km, or 40km. Keep in mind, all the NATO arms sent there are now being tested in wartime. So we have a self-interest in giving Ukraine what they ask for. But I'm convinced we'll get there, eventually. We are light years from where we were on Feb. 24."
Much of the rest of the lengthy piece dealt with Marran's resume, his meeting with multiple CIA and MI6 chiefs despite his relatively young age – 44 – the apparently unheeded warnings about Russia made "many, many years ago", and a former high-ranking U.S. intelligence officer quoted as saying: "The respect for Marran and his service in the U.S. intelligence community is quite palpable."
The same officer noted Estonia regularly punched above its weight on matters concerning Russia.
Marran is also regularly invited to officials' homes when he visits the US, unlike the directors of other allied services, the piece added.
As to his new role, Marran said: "As Estonia is basically covered with forests, I will be responsible for a third of the territory of the country, more than half of the forests of Estonia," noting that he is leaving office as head of the Foreign Intelligence Service at a time when the west is "more united than it has ever been in the last 30 years or so," principally due to Putin's craziness.
The original Yahoo piece is here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte