ERR in Munich: Western politicians might not be ready for long war

Panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference.
Panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference. Source: Government Office

While Western politicians reiterated their promises to stay behind Ukraine for as long as it takes at the Munich Security Conference, PM Kaja Kallas said there were also signals to suggest countries might not be in it for the long haul.

One of the conclusions of the conference this year is that the West will continue to back Ukraine for as long as necessary.

But the message seems to be a chorus to repeat for many politicians, something to shake off suspicions of being pro-Russian. Behind the scenes conversations seemed to suggest recent volume of aid might not be retained, even though much more is needed.

"We're beginning to hear suggestions that while we are making an effort now, if it doesn't work, you should sit down, cut a deal and surrender some things. And this is dangerous. We need to talk about why it's dangerous," Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said.

Doubt is thickest around major Western European powers who forced the Minsk agreements on Ukraine. Renowned American Russia expert Julia Joffe also suspects they might not be prepared for a long confrontation.

"I'm afraid they're not ready for it. I believe that some Eastern European countries, like the Baltics and Poland, are ready to be there for the long haul, while France and Germany have always been a little more touch and go. Especially if Putin were to reach out and say he's willing to negotiate, they would be much more tepid in their support for Ukraine," Joffe suggested.

This seems to be caused by the different history of Western and Eastern Europe and how World War II ended.

"It is one lesson I have learned this year - our Western allies do not really know the history behind the Iron Curtain. Of course, to compare the two, war is bad and peace is good. But there is peace and then there's peace, and it needs to be clarified," Kallas said.

Eastern Europe must do a better job of explaining its history in the future.


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Editor: Barbara Oja, Marcus Turovski

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