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Mihkelson and Paet: We must not paint ourselves as future victims

Marko Mihkelson and Urmas Paet.
Marko Mihkelson and Urmas Paet. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Estonia and the other Baltic countries should refrain from presenting themselves as potential victims of future aggression by Russia, MP Marko Mihkelson and former foreign minister, MEP Urmas Paet said.

"Our actions today should not create the notion that the Baltic countries are almost certainly victims of potential Russian aggression in the future," Mihkelson said when asked by ERR to comment on Prime Minister Kaja Kallas recently telling The Times that Russia could attack NATO's Eastern Flank in three to five years.

But both Mihkelson and Paet refrained from criticizing Kallas' interview directly. All three are members of the ruling Reform Party.

"I think that reading the interview she gave to The Times, the central idea is the need to understand that there is a major war in Europe, a war that will change the world and which threatens not just Ukraine and the Ukrainians," Mihkelson remarked. He said that Russia's aim is to alter the current international order. "Putin last said it a few weeks ago, and it also means dismantling the European security architecture."

"[But] I definitely do not agree with those who say that Estonia or the Baltic countries are next," Mihkelson added. He harked back to questions such as "Is Narva next?" which first surfaced when Russia annexed Crimea. "Of course we didn't like it and still don't when people suggest Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania are next in line somehow."

Mihkelson said that Estonia is a NATO member and the alliance will also defend its members in the future and repeated Estonia's foreign policy tenet of "never again alone."

"However, it is important to make sure our allies and partners in the EU and NATO share our threat perception in terms of what the alliance faces, and I have no doubt this realization exists today. Countries neighboring Russia have historically felt it more keenly, but the most important thing to realize today is that the significance of this war for Europe and the world is so great that our allies absolutely must pay more attention to defense spending and long-term defense investments," the chair of the Riigikogu Foreign Affairs Committee said.

"Our task is to do everything in our power for the deterrence, the defense potential NATO has preventing whichever threat our borders might face. That is where we need to channel our diplomatic energy and capital," he said. "And, of course, the most critical step therein is to help Ukraine achieve victory as the outcome of this war will greatly affect the future of the democratic world. Not just our future."

Paet: The future is unknown

Urmas Paet also said, when speaking to ERR, that one should not go overboard by painting the Baltics as potential victims of Russia.

"I'm not sure it has the capacity to inspire anyone emotionally."

Paet said that no one knows Russia's future steps or how the European security situation will develop.

The only thing we can do in this light is to strengthen our defenses. "We need to do our very best while keeping in mind the psychological conditions and stress level in society," he said.

The MEP added that special effort needs to be made not to tie the Baltics, as a potential target for Russia, to Moldova or another non-NATO country.

Paet also emphasized that Ukraine needs maximal support to make sure Russia will not be able to get what it wants.

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Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski

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