The Baltic states have long warned Russia. Now the West may be listening.

Riga, Latvia — Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv’s strongest allies to President Vladimir Putin have been those who know his Soviet strategy best. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland were all subjected to Soviet invasion and brutality. Their warnings of Russian aggression and calls for stronger Western action to deter Putin were long ignored by many in Europe, even after Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia and the 2014 Kremlin’s invasion and annexation of Crimea. This war should have been heard by those we knew Putin. “They have been telling us for years that Putin will not stop.” Since February, the Baltic and Poland have repeatedly called for faster and more military support, including more powerful offensive weapons, but the US has refused. Slowly things began to change after Putin, a Western European ally, who wanted to make it clear that there was no direct conflict with Russia, repeatedly proved his cautious neighbors right. The shocking escalation of the Russian president on Monday and civilian targets, including a power plant that launched dozens of missiles in Ukraine, have been strongly condemned worldwide. Western leaders are beginning to recognize that more decisive steps may need to be taken to ensure a victory for Ukraine in Kyiv, particularly in its anti-aircraft defense system. The NATO Contact Group on Ukraine will meet in Brussels on Wednesday and NATO Defense Ministers will meet on Thursday, but in a signal that their easternmost allies are already making progress, the G7 leaders issued a strong statement on Tuesday supporting Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky’s demands. I did. A “just peace” that leaves no room for succumbing to Putin’s demands. The G-7 advocates restoring Ukraine’s sovereign territories and supporting the future security and reconstruction of Russia-funded Ukraine, but still insists that Baltic leaders need to do more. On Tuesday, Estonian Prime Minister Kaza Callas and von der Leyen, the former German defense minister, stood in the village of Narva, about 100 yards from the Estonian-Russian border, sending a strong signal that the Kremlin’s expansion had not undermined Western support for Ukraine. . “Ukraine’s success on the battlefield means we are on the right track and we need to capitalize on this momentum,” Callas said in an email to The Washington Post after his appearance. With von der Leyenne. “It should translate into an increasingly strong and powerful support for the Ukrainian military, economy and people. Especially as Russia is expanding in the most serious way since February 24.” “Estonia knows firsthand the face of Russian occupation,” adds Callas. “We know that peace under occupation means more than just an end to atrocities.” Baltic leaders have long argued that Western sanctions adopted in 2014 after Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea showed the West’s lack of resolve to confront the Russian president. ground grab. European leaders seemed to think that the Baltic coast was too shocked by the Soviet occupation to be objective.” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said: “Jokingly we call it the ‘Western Plain’. The message from the West is, “After 50 years of occupation, it is understandable that you have trust issues with the country that occupied you.” “For us on the Baltic, everything boils down to the concept of oil painting. Basically, we can appease Russia,” continues Landsbergis. “For us it was always very clear and black and white. If there is a desire to cross borders, they are an aggressor and if not stopped, they will do it again. And they did not stop.” “The concept is quite pervasive. It’s a peaceful settlement with the aggressor,” he added, “and I sincerely hope it’s on the decline now.” Amid the threat of Putin’s use of nuclear weapons, the annexation of four more Ukraine regions, and the strengthening of military power, the leaders of Poland and the Baltic states are once again urging Western leaders not to blink. Foreign Minister Edgars Linkevich said: “Russia is trying to figure out whether they will be allowed to take control of Ukraine, whether we will succumb to nuclear threats, or whether we will try to negotiate and set up a land for peace. .” To protect the country from Russian missile attacks on civilian targets and critical infrastructure such as power plants. “In fact, my conclusion is that Ukraine should provide everything it asks for.” He said that air and air defense systems are urgently needed. We know they can and have a lot of use,” he said. Estonia and Latvia provided more military aid to Ukraine per capita than any other country. The Baltic States and Poland were also the strongest supporters of economic sanctions against Russia, although their economies were hit hardest by their neighboring countries shutting down business with a large market right next door. The Estonian Foreign Policy Institute at the International Center for Defense and Security said that since 2007, Russian policy in the West has ignored the obvious signs of Russia’s retaliatory imperialism and autocratic path. The West’s response when it came to imposing its own agenda was not to limit Russian aggression and make it clear that there would be costs and consequences if Russia violates core principles of international security.” The gentle response from the West after the invasion of Georgia only inspired Moscow,” said Raik. He said. Europe.” She said Western restrictions on the types of weapons sent to Ukraine did not prevent Russia’s escalation. “Russia is determined to defeat and destroy the independent state of Ukraine, and Russia is using everything it can to achieve that goal,” she said. “It doesn’t really help the situation for the West to limit its aid to Ukraine.” Rinkevics said the West will have to dramatically expand military production in the next few years. “The next five to ten years are very difficult. We need equipment to replenish our inventory. More equipment is needed for NATO member states. We need equipment for Ukraine. I think we have to admit that this is going to be a long lasting war.” Unless the West takes a firm stand, its easternmost allies claim Putin will defeat Ukraine. , or if you are trying to push further west into Moldova or beyond, “if you know at this point there’s only talk and no action, of course you’re going to challenge NATO itself,” said Rinkevics. For Landsbergis, it’s just a victory for Ukraine. You will ensure the safety of your own country and other countries. “They must win for all of us,” Callas said. Only a show of force, she said, could stop Russian aggression and end the war. “The road to peace is to drive Russia out of Ukraine,” she said. Natalia Abakumova of Riga, Latvia and Emily Lauhalla of Brussels contributed to this report.
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