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Belief in Ukraine’s victory is as important as military aid — Prime Minister Kallas

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Stenbock House, 27 September 2023 – Speaking at the 17th Annual Baltic Conference on Defence (ABCD), Prime Minister Kaja Kallas stressed that although the war instigated in Ukraine by Russia is likely to be a long one, the Ukrainians will win it with the help of the free world.

“Russia has the resources to sustain its military efforts, including a steady supply of manpower, Soviet-era weaponry and manipulative propaganda,” she said. “Putin’s strategy appears to revolve around prolonging the war, wagering that both Ukraine and the wider transatlantic community will tire out. But after one small victory for Ukraine comes another. I have faith in their ultimate victory. However, they cannot achieve it alone; they need our support for as long as the war continues. As we provide Ukraine with the necessary assistance, it is crucial that we maintain our belief in Ukraine’s eventual victory.”The Estonian head of government described the threats with which Russia has responded to the provision of military assistance to Ukraine as empty words. “However, any delay in providing that assistance raises the cost of the war for Ukraine and for the free world,” she cautioned. “We all want this war to end. But it must do so in a way that also brings Russia’s historic cycle of violence to an end. Any hesitation fuels Putin’s imperial ambitions. The longer we wait and hesitate, the higher the cost of the war becomes. President Zelensky recently summed this up in plain terms, saying that if Ukraine’s partners do not help them, they will help Russia to win. That’s it.”

Estonia has already provided aid to Ukraine in an amount equivalent to 1.3% of its GDP and is investing more than 3% of its GDP in its defence capabilities, plus the additional cost of hosting allies. The national budget for 2024, which was approved earlier today, foresees defence spending of 1.33 billion euros in the new year and almost 5.6 billion euros in total from 2024-2027. Prime Minister Kallas says all allies need to back up the defensive plans approved at the NATO summit in Vilnius with real military capabilities and defence budgets sufficient to meet modern challenges. “Europe’s current stockpiles for wartime needs are inadequate,” she warned. “We must ramp up production in terms of both speed and quantity in order to keep up with the new security reality.”

Finally, the head of government remarked that Estonia will back Ukraine all the way to victory. “That means a just and lasting peace,” she explained. “Territorial integrity and holding the aggressor accountable, including for crimes of aggression, must be at the heart of this. That is the only way to ensure peace and security in Europe. Here, a silver medal is simply not good enough.”

ABCD23, organised by the International Centre for Defence and Security and the Estonian Ministry of Defence, bears the title ‘A Silver Medal Is Not Good Enough: Mobilising Ourselves to Deter Another War in Europe’. It is focussing on the issue of how to mobilise and maintain within NATO and European countries the political and social will, industrial capacity and military power needed to ensure a lasting peace.

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