Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Marko Mihkelson said in his speech at the Baltic Symposium at University College London (UCL) that a fundamental and active dialogue with Russia is possible only when the West contributes to visible and credible deterrence more that it has done so far.
“It is in the interests of all of us to reduce tensions and avoid triggering the worst-case scenarios in relations with Russia. However, it is possible only if Russia’s aggressive policy is countered by visible and credible deterrence. History has proven several times that Russia can be managed only by strength that can be felt. Only then the power of word will prevail,” Mihkelson said when speaking about the need for a new common strategy in dealing with Russia.
Mihkelson emphasised that Russia had been waging a hybrid Cold War against the West for years, and the purpose of that war was to erode the unity of the EU and NATO and to force the West to review the security architecture that had become established in Europe after the Berlin Wall.
In his report, Mihkelson pointed out five central issues the countries of the West should focus on as soon as possible. First, the countries of the West as a whole have to understand that the greatest existential threat to the European Union and NATO today and in the visible future comes from Russia.
Second, it is necessary to work in the name of preserving the unity of Europe, and the Western world in a wider sense. Here, Mihkelson asked rhetorically: “Would Brexit be in the interests of Russia? Yes, it most probably would.” “The more crumbling there is inside the countries of Europe and between them, the easier it is for Russia to achieve its aims,” Mihkelson said.
As the third issue, Mihkelson emphasised in the framework of the coming NATO summit the need to raise deterrence to a credible and visible level. This could be done by significantly increasing the presence of the allies on the Eastern wing of the Alliance, especially in the Baltic States.
Fourthly, the Chairman of the National Defence Committee highlighted the need to support Ukraine. “There is no doubt that the geopolitical fight over the future of Ukraine determines the development vector of the relations between Russia and the West. Ukraine’s failure would only increase the tensions in these relations,” Mihkelson said.
Fifthly Mihkelson emphasised the need to protect the way of living that is based on common values and civic freedom. “Those who think that there is no ideological confrontation in the relations between Russia and the West today are mistaken. Like 30 years ago, the serious divide between the democratic West and the authoritarian or sometimes even totalitarian Russia continues to be relevant also now. Such information warfare as we have today has never been seen before. Here the free world has much to do if it does not want to remain a loser,” Mihkelson said.
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