Europe has between three and five years to prepare for a resurgent Russian military as a serious threat to NATO's eastern flank, including Estonia's eastern border, Kaja Kallas told British daily The Times.
"Our intelligence estimates it to be three to five years, and that very much depends on how we manage our unity and keep our posture regarding Ukraine," the prime minister told The Times.
"What Russia wants is a pause, and this pause is to gather its resources and strength. Weakness provokes aggressors, so weakness provokes Russia," she added.
Kallas conceded that it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain NATO unity, with signs of war fatigue present in several Western nations, and the possibility of Donald Trump returning as U.S. president, which would undermine NATO deterrence, the paper wrote.
"It's becoming harder [to maintain unity] all the time because the topics are getting harder as well," Kallas added.
"We are all democracies, and in democracies you have domestic problems that kick in and the war has been going on for some time so that it sort of becomes wallpaper," the prime minister continued, adding that it is nonetheless the obligation of leaders to continue to explain why Ukraine must be supported and must triumph, for the sake of all of Europe's security.
Emphasised to @thetimes that the aggressor only understands strength.— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) January 16, 2024
To deter Russia, we must keep our unity and keep supporting Ukraine.
Estonia spends over 3% of GDP on defence. I call on all NATO Allies to make increasing defence spending a priority.https://t.co/GtU2VgY6j0
In the longer term, NATO needs to adopt a Cold War-style "containment" strategy towards Russia, Kallas added, with defense spending of 2.5 percent of GDP per year as a baseline minimum for Western nations.
A report by the Foreign Intelligence Service (Välisluureamet) which Kallas had cited says Moscow regarded Estonia as among the most vulnerable parts of the NATO alliance and thus the most likely location for any potential attack.
This is the case even with Russia's losses in its invasion of Ukraine so far estimated at up to 300,000 casualties, while irredentism and never having had to take responsibility for past atrocities being among the driving forces of Russian aggression.
The rest of the interview deals with a recent spate of disruption to GPS navigation across the southern Baltic Sea, which Kallas has said was likely conducted or at least caused by Russia – Kallas was the first NATO leader to suggest this; shortfalls in relation to NATO capabilities, and different theorized windows of time which Russia might require to rebuild its military fully after the Ukraine war.
As noted Kallas put this time-frame at around five years, while other estimates have put the figure at up to nine years.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: The Times