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AP: Baltics have 3 or 4 years to prepare for Russian ‘test’ of NATO, Estonia FM says

Estonian FM Tsahkna warned that NATO has three to four years to strengthen defenses against Russia’s growing “war machine.”
Russian soldier with looted items in Popasna, Luhansk Oblast, Ukraine. Spring 2022. Photo: RFE/RL
AP: Baltics have 3 or 4 years to prepare for Russian ‘test’ of NATO, Estonia FM says

On 14 February, Estonia’s Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna stated that NATO has approximately three to four years to bolster its defenses as Russian President Vladimir Putin intensifies his country’s “war machine,” AP reports.

Earlier, Estonia’s Foreign Intelligence Service warned of a potential military confrontation between Russia and the West in the next decade, suggesting a counter build-up of armed forces as a deterrent, while other Western officials also cautioned of a Russian military threat to NATO’s eastern flank, urging Europe to bolster defenses, believing Russia won’t stop in Ukraine.

During a visit to Poland’s capital, Tsahkna mentioned that Estonia, along with the other Baltic states of Lithuania and Latvia, does not perceive Russia as an immediate threat due to Moscow’s preoccupation with its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

“But we must understand the Russian war machine has started in the full scale, the capabilities for production and the mentality as well, because Putin is controlling now everything,” he said alongside his Polish counterpart, Radek Sikorski.

Tsahkna stated that Estonia’s government estimates Russia could take “three to four years” to prepare a “test for NATO.” The Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia are considered potential targets if Russia decides to risk an attack on the alliance, with neighboring Poland, though larger, also feeling vulnerable. All four countries are strong supporters of Ukraine.

Recalling his tenure as defense minister in 2017, Tsahkna noted Russia’s deployment of 120,000 troops near the Baltic states’ border, many of whom have been redeployed and killed in Ukraine. He stated this shows “Ukraine is not fighting for us, but instead of us.”

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