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Estonian PM: NATO training Ukraine’s army inside Ukraine poses no risk of conflict with Russia

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas stated that NATO allies training Ukrainian soldiers within Ukraine does not risk escalating the war or provoking direct conflict with Russia.
kaja kallas estonia's prime minister screenshot from bbc video
Kaja Kallas, Estonia’s Prime Minister. Screenshot from a BBC video
Estonian PM: NATO training Ukraine’s army inside Ukraine poses no risk of conflict with Russia

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has stated that NATO allies training soldiers within Ukraine itself does not risk escalating the war or provoking direct conflict with Russia. Kallas told the Financial Times that “there are countries who are training soldiers on the ground already” in Ukraine and they are doing so at their own risk.

In late February, French President Macron discussed deploying NATO troops in Ukraine, emphasizing the lack of consensus for combat roles but advocating to keep all support options open. While many NATO leaders minimized the likelihood of direct combat engagement, the idea of deploying non-combat troops gained acceptance among some member countries like Poland and Lithuania.

Previously, Polish FM Sikorski revealed that some NATO troops are already in Ukraine and further NATO presence in Ukraine is “not unthinkable.” Lithuania’s Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said earlier Parliament approved sending training troops to Ukraine, awaiting Kyiv’s request, while Estonia’s national security advisor, Madis Roll, stated the government is in serious discussions about sending troops to western Ukraine for non-combat duties.

Speaking to FT, PM Kallas argued that if any training personnel were attacked by Russian forces, it would not automatically trigger NATO’s Article 5 mutual defense clause.

“I can’t possibly imagine that if somebody is hurt there, then those who have sent their people will say ‘it’s article five. Let’s… bomb Russia.’ It is not how it works. It’s not automatic. So these fears are not well-founded,” Kallas said.

The Estonian leader emphasized that by sending troops to help train Ukrainians, “you know the country is in war and you go to a risk zone. So you take the risk.” She contended that Russia’s “propaganda is all about being in a war with NATO, so they don’t need an excuse. Whatever we do on our side… If they want to attack, they will attack.”

Kallas argued that helping train Ukraine’s forces on its own territory, rather than elsewhere in Europe, would not be escalatory. With Ukraine struggling to maintain defensive lines against the larger Russian military, she said Kyiv needs to recruit and train hundreds of thousands of troops efficiently within Ukraine itself.

The Estonian PM stated that Ukraine’s allies do not share a unified goal, with some committed to Ukrainian victory while others merely want it not to lose.

“Some are saying: ‘Ukrainians should not lose’. The others say: ‘We have to work for Ukraine and victory.’ And this is not the same thing,” she said, advocating for a goal of complete Ukrainian victory and territorial liberation.

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