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Marko Mihkelson: Some Western states still not fully grasping Russia threat

Riigikogu Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Marko Mihkelson (Reform).
Riigikogu Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Marko Mihkelson (Reform). Source: Riigikogu Press Service/Erik Peinar

Leaders of some Western nations continue to be seemingly unaware of the full extent of the existential threat Russia's war on Ukraine presents, Reform Party MP and chair of the Riigikogu's Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson says.

Speaking to ETV politics show "Esimene stuudio" Thursday, Mihkelson said: "Most certainly, what there is a clear consensus on is that Ukraine must not lose this war."

"But what does that mean? Plus the question of victory includes whether the plan that Volodymyr Zelensky has come up with, his 10-point peace plan, which essentially means the liberation of the entire occupied territory, will be fully shared [by other European and Western countries]."

"What will the price of that be, and what will be done in order to ensure this act is successfully carried out, actually dictates what kind of aid is provided to Ukraine," Mihkelson added.

"And here it is not easy to read this agreement, nor a very understandable winning strategy, especially if we are talking about the USA or Germany," Mihkelson explained.

"If we take the fact that Russia can currently produce artillery shells two or three times more than the entire West combined, then we could say that free countries still have a lot of work to do.

"And it is also important now that the real existential threat that this war actually represents is not yet felt in the West. That this is not just a regional war concerning Ukraine – it is being waged for the destruction of the Ukrainian state – but Russia's goal is to mess up the entire world order, above all in Europe," Mihkelson said.

Russia remains a threat to many states in addition to Ukraine, Mihkelson said, meaning defense investments, the defense industry, and deterrence in general must be built up in proportion.

While this is not the case in Estonia, in some Western countries the specter of war or the escalation of the current war is behind a more lukewarm attitude, Mihlekson said.

The MP cited German Chancellor Olaf Scholz' recent decision not to send Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine as an example of this.

Conversely, many other countries also do not have a real sense of the danger the ongoing war in Ukraine presents, and so have not made sufficient effort to provide armaments and other aid to Kyiv for this reason.

Mihkelson added that the most important question facing Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in Tallinn on an official visit Thursday, is how to create sustainable defense resource s which would both enable a Ukrainian victory and also demonstrate to Russia that were it to raise the stakes, countries round the world are militarily prepared to react.

The Ukrainian army is nonetheless now better equipped than at the beginning of the full-scale war. He added that since the current war in Ukraine is the most intense of all conflicts to have hit Europe since World War Two, and has also exceeded many other major conflicts in its duration.

All this continues to mean Ukraine's military capabilities and stockpiles are of critical importance – Mihkelson noted that Russia obtains a "somewhat constant supply" of arms and ammunition from its own producers, but also from other undemocratic states such as North Korea and Iran.

As noted in a question by a journalist at the press conference featuring Zelenskyy and Prime minister Kaja Kallas, the pledge for Estonia to provide Ukraine with a million artillery shells has not yet been fulfilled – a fact which Mihkelson put down to issues of political will.

The current economic situation, the situation with the state budget both mean that upping defense spend and investment has to come at the expense of something else, which in turn involves political decisions and choices – even in a democratic country like Estonia, which also has a higher sense of the existential danger than does Germany, France or even the U.S., Mihkelson said.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: 'Esimene stuudio,' Mirko Ojakivi.

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