Estonian PM to The New York Times: Putin cannot win this war or even think he has won

  • 2022-03-24
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - In an opinion piece written to The New York Times ahead of the EU leaders' summit, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that Russian President Vladimir Putin cannot win this war or even think he has won, or his appetite will grow. 

"We need to demonstrate the will and commit resources to defend NATO territory. To check Russia’s aggression, we need to put in place a long-term policy of smart containment," the Estonian prime minister said.

"First, we must help Ukraine in every possible way. Ukrainian soldiers are able fighters, but they need weapons and materiel, including longer-range air defense assets and anti-tank missiles to better protect their skies. Defensive military aid must be our top priority, and we must commit ourselves to it for the long haul," she noted, adding that the free world should redouble its efforts to support the people of Ukraine however possible -- through the delivery of arms, food and daily essentials," she added.

Secondly, the West must show the aggressor that it is ready to defend itself and, if need be, to fight, the Estonian premier went on.

"Sometimes the best way to achieve peace is to be willing to use military strength. But we need to go further. The forward presence needs to become forward defense, of land, air and sea. That would mean more combat-ready allied troops stationed permanently in the Baltic States, supported by long-range artillery, air defense and other enabling capabilities. It would mean more NATO fighters in our skies ready to switch from peacetime air policing to wartime air defense. And it would mean more NATO ships patrolling the Baltic Sea," she wrote.

Thirdly, the world must paralyze the Kremlin's war machine relying on oil and gas revenues, Kallas said. 

"Our focus must be on drying up these revenues. The European Union has already announced plans to cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds by the end of this year. But it can and should go further. We should also put some of the payments for Moscow's oil and gas in a special third-party account so that the revenue does not go toward financing the war. And we should direct a significant share of these funds to a future reconstruction plan for Ukraine," she added.

The West also needs to help Ukrainians fleeing the war, the Estonian prime minister said.

"Moscow may think that forcing millions of Ukrainians to leave and seek shelter across Europe will destabilize our societies. This is also part of Mr. Putin's war aims, and one of the tools of his hybrid warfare. We must show him he's wrong. All countries should do as much as they can to provide a safe haven for Ukrainian refugees until they can return home," Kallas wrote.