Kaja Kallas, prime minister of Estonia.

“Grey Zones Are Potential Sources of War”

Kaja Kallas is urging to speed up enlargement, reinforce Europe’s armies, and ramp up the resilience of European democracies. 

European Voices: It’s been two years since Vladimir Putin gave orders to attack Ukraine. Since you became prime minister of Estonia, you were one of those European leaders warning of the danger that Vladimir Putin’s Russia poses.

Kaja Kallas: I was accused of Russophobia back then. I vividly remember a dinner at the Munich Security Conference in 2022, a week before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24th. The chief of one of the intelligence services of our allies said that a Russian invasion is not going to happen. He said: “Putin is not going to start the war.” In Estonia we were quite convinced that Vladimir Putin was about to do just that – that he would indeed attack Ukraine. My answer to the intelligence chief was: “Well, I hope you’re right and I’m wrong.” It turned out, he was wrong, and we were right. But: It makes no sense talking about the past at this point. It makes far more sense to look towards the future.

„Putin said that he wants to redraw
the security architecture of Europe.“

Kaja Kallas

What do you see on the horizon? How will be the next steps concerning the war in Ukraine? 

We need to boost our own defenses. And I am not only talking about the NATO members on the eastern flank – this is a task for the whole of NATO. One thing is clear: Russia is the biggest threat to NATO. If Putin thinks that we are weak, he might conclude that he could take his aggression even one step further. My credo: The only thing Vladimir Putin understands is strength. Remember the annexation of Crimea or the attack on the Donbas in 2014? Ten years ago, Putin still felt obliged to deny that Russia had a hand in these operations. “Oh, it’s not us,” he said. It was just “little green men.”

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