RIGA - Western countries need to provide Ukraine with more air defense equipment, according to the former commander of the National Armed Forces (NAF) Juris Maklakovs.
He told LETA that the West is already working on this and will continue to pursue it so that the Russian side does not dominate the airspace.
On the other hand, the former chief of the NAF expressed skepticism regarding the delivery of a larger number of military aircraft to Ukraine requested by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky. He explained that a large part of Ukraine's planes had been destroyed by Russia while on the ground, and given Russia's superiority in the number of planes and weapons, Maklakovs doubted the effectiveness of such a move.
Asked about the announcement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that the alliance would not establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine, Maklakovs emphasized that NATO's decision on the matter was clearly correct. He pointed out that there are people who think that Vladimir Putin's statement on the use of nuclear weapons is a bluff, but Maklakovs said that he believes the opposite.
Given Putin's authoritarian nature and past decisions, if NATO were to introduce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, Putin could use nuclear weapons, the former NAF chief said.
He explained that Putin's recent decisions were based on the fact that the Baltic States are a part of NATO and that they could not be touched because otherwise Article 5 of the alliance agreement would immediately be triggered. Asked that Putin might not stop with Ukraine but decide to attack the Baltic states as well, Maklakovs said he did not think Ukraine could be followed by the Baltic states. He said that the whole world wants Putin to be removed from the post of Russian leader and punished, and that the sanctions were being used to ensure that such an anti-Putin decision was taken within Russia.
Maklakovs emphasized his support for Ukraine and wished it to win this war. He therefore welcomes the decision of NATO members to supply Ukraine with arms.