Kusti Salm: We must inspire Germany to provide more aid to Ukraine

Ministry of Defense Secretary General Kusti Salm.
Ministry of Defense Secretary General Kusti Salm. Source: ERR

A decision by Estonia to allocate military aid totaling €113 million to Ukraine is first and foremost aimed at encouraging allied nations to follow suit, Ministry of Defense Secretary General Kusti Salm says.

Appearing on ETV politics show "Esimene stuudio" Thursday evening, Salm said that the meeting of nine European countries' defense ministers, along with those of Estonia and the U.K., hosted at Tapa the same day, ahead of Friday's summit at Ramstein, Germany, sent a message to allies.

This message consisted mainly of the weapons aid announcement.

Salm said that both the aid package unveiled Thursday, and that due to be announced on Friday, are the largest so far to Ukraine since the Russian invasion started in late February last year. 

Salm also noted that assembling these aid packages becomes more difficult each time.

He said: "We have to be building it up all the time. Each time it gets more difficult, and each time we have to convince ourselves more."

Nonetheless, the aid Estonia provides is of great help to Ukraine, in the war's front line, he went on. "We have provided a dozens of artillery pieces; by spreading them out along the front you can set off quite a lot of detonations. We have been providing anti-tank weapons, anti-tank ammunition, binoculars, trucks etc., all of which helps. We send the things that are actually needed," he enumerated.

In addition to the heavy weaponry pledged by the U.K. earlier this week, Ukraine will be receiving air defense equipment from the allies.

"Is this needed so much [as other types of aid], then the answer to that is likely not 'yes', but at the same these can be provided. The allies priorities are there, but change over time; there is no magic bullet which will bring victory immediately.

"Is as much as needed, the answer to that is probably not 'yes'. But they can. The Allies' priority is there. However, priorities move over time. There is no silver bullet that will win the war immediately. Today it is, of course, air defense. Maybe after a while it will be something else. Everyone is learning; the Ukrainians are learning, while the Russian Federation is learning too," he said.

The missile defense aid is also aimed at defending Ukraine's energy infrastructure, and its civilian population. "However, they have to get even more. It is important that the West keeps in mind victory in the war in Ukraine as the goal."

The largest hole in Ukraine's capability at present relates to ammunition and indirect fire capabilities, Salm went on. "This is what will bring them success on the battlefield. Tanks, armor, everything that helps advances on the battlefield, to carry fire onwards – this is what's critical to winning the war, and is also the focus of the allies," he said.

Salm confirmed that Ramstein will also bring news about fresh aid to Ukraine. "These decisions have been largely made; the ministers are coming together to announce them," he said.

Overall, Ramstein is aimed at inspiring all allies.

"When a country the size of Estonia says that it has given €400 million euros to date, one percent of its GDP, then we can calculate that one percent of GDP in the U.K. comes to €40 billion; in the U.S., several hundred billion. This is what can inspire. It is inspirational when such a small country can make a contribution. It is inspirational when we say that we have taken a risk at the expense of our own defensive capability; how can other western allies then say that they can't do that, because they would have to take a risk?" he went on.

Finding ways to convince Germany is also needed, as a part of this.

Salm said: "Germany is one such country which is an exceptionally close ally to us. We will not patronize the activities of our close ally, we will not encourage them, we will not teach them. We have to find ways to inspire them, and help them overcome the obstacles arising from their political decisions. It is clear that there are reasons why they haven't provided aid as much thus far, and it's up to us to think how they might get out of that deadlock. Plus I'm actually also convinced that they will push themselves out of that."

Nevertheless, signs of a quick end to the Ukraine war as it nears its first anniversary are not very abundant, Salm added.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

Source: Esimene stuudio, interviewer Mirko Ojakivi.

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