While Estonia has been the largest donor to Ukraine's defense, in terms of proportion of Gross Domestic Product, Russia's defense forces remain mired in a mentality dating as far back as the civil war of a century ago, Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur (Reform) noted in an exclusive interview given in English, to the Kyiv Independent.
"What we see from the battlefield is that the Russian army has not changed in 100 years," Pevkur told the Kyiv Independent.
"During both the world wars, they used the same tactics, namely unimaginable atrocities and war crimes. They are raping children; they are slaughtering civilians," he continued.
"So in that sense, nothing has changed in the Russian war system. And on the other hand, of course, we see that heavy artillery and long-range fire are still much needed. When we thought that whatever the new war would be, for instance like a high-tech war, has not turned out to be. It's still a heavy artillery fight."
As to the Kyiv Independent's question on why Pevkur thinks the Russian army has turned out less powerful than predicted, in the course of its invasion of Ukraine, the minister said: "The answer lies in their World War Two mentality. "
As to the longer-term prognosis of Vladimir Putin remaining at the helm in Russia, a position he has occupied for around 23 years now (compared with around 26 years for Stalin, depending on when you date the start from-ed.), Pevkur said: "It's up to the Russian people to decide on that. Of course, if left to Putin himself, he would never step down or resign, while he's controlling all the means to remain in power."
The war itself is far from over, Pevkur added, and heavy artillery and long fire is still much needed for Ukraine.
He said: " I could also ask why the others are not doing as much as Estonians. Because we all understand that Ukraine is not fighting only for itself and for the Ukrainian people. They are fighting for a free world and a rule-based world. So this is why we have to help Ukraine as much as we can. Of course, we know that Ukraine needs that help desperately.
The Kyiv Independent also noted that Estonia had been among the handful of countries that provided Ukraine with military aid, including anti-tank missiles and financial support, even before the invasion bge in February last year.
In terms of how many Ukrainian soldiers Estonia's defense forces have trained, Pevkur put the figure at 600.
"We have given training to one company at a time, three time overs. On top of that, there are medics, sharpshooters, and more. I can't tell you more precisely"
In an exclusive interview with the Kyiv Independent, Estonian Defense Minister @HPevkur explains how Estonia is training Ukrainian soldiers. "We are doing three companies and altogether 600 infantry basic training," says Pevkur.— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) March 19, 2023
Read the full interview: https://t.co/WpYeLl3YXt pic.twitter.com/hiGlyWkbjW
"We made an initiative that we should procure jointly one million 155-millimeter howitzer rounds, he added."
The aid has also helped kick-start Estonia's own defensive development too, Pevkur added.
"The practical impact is that Estonia has also brought a lot of new equipment to its military. We invested 1.2 billion last year into Estonian defense, and most of it is for the heavy artillery. We are buying new K9 "Thunder" self-propelled howitzers plus new anti-missile systems, rockets, which have a reach of 300 kilometers. We are also buying new anti-tank systems and new air defense systems," he noted, referencing the planned HIMARS procurement too, and the planned doubling in size of the volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit).
The Kyiv Independent is an English-language online newspaper founded in 2021 by former staff of the Kyiv Post, together with media consultancy Jnomics Media.
The interview with Hanno Pevkur was conducted by Theo Prouvost.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: Kyiv Independent