Next year's US presidential elections may shift the focus of NATO's largest member state away from support for Ukraine to a more inward direction, something which can continue after those elections, depending on the result, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) says.
Speaking to German weekly Die Zeit, Kallas said: "Thus far, we can thank the U.S. and President Joe Biden for their leadership, but an election in favor of Donald Trump could change much. We haven't really dealt with this issue between European leaders. However, I'm sure that the U.S. – regardless of who ends up being the next president – continues to see itself as a global player," said Kallas.
In regard to posited "war fatigue" worldwide, Kallas likened war to an operation without the benefit of anaesthetics.
"Russia's hope is that it can withstand the pain longer than Ukraine and her supporters. From the outset, I have called on people to be mentally prepared for a lengthy war. Of course, every country has its own internal problems, including inflation, high energy prices, and high food and housing prices. But when we think about what's really at stake, we must never tire of giving support. If Russia emerges victorious, it will further expand its revanchist goals. It will pick up its imitators from other authoritarian regimes, around the world. So we have to continue to believe in a Ukrainian victory," Kallas went on.
While in some countries, security policy seems more of an intellectual exercise, Kallas said, at least based on her impressions with meetings with other EU heads of government in the run-up to the current war, for Estonia and the Baltic states it is an existential question, and continues to be so.
"In 1988, in other words the year before the fall of the Berlin Wall, all NATO member states were spending at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense, since there was a clear and present threat. Now we are witnessing an actual war, in Europe, yet still some of our allies do not seem to recognize that the threat is real," Kallas continued.
As to the proposed supply of German Taurus air-launched cruise missiles to Ukraine (media reports have it that Chancellor Olaf Scholz is concerned about Ukraine using the missiles to strike the Kerch Strait bridge – ed.), Kallas said that the matter was one for the German government – though her plea was a simple one: "Please, just give us all that you are able to give, as it is in all our interests to arm Ukraine so that she can end the war, as soon as possible. Each and every hesitation and delay will only serve to hike the price that Ukraine will have to pay for victory. As I have said: Germany must decide for herself, but if I had to make the decision, I would deliver Taurus missiles to Ukraine."
While the heads of all governments can always opt to spend money on objects other than defense, it should always be borne in mind that without effective national defense, one might wake up one day to find there is no country, any more.
Kallas also highlighted both Germany's pivotal role at the heart of Europe and that of the Baltic states, given their past experiences and histories.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Urmet Kook