A leading Estonian foreign affairs expert warned the West today that too many of its allies “are still asleep” to the true danger that Russian aggression poses to geopolitical stability.
Addressing the London Defence Conference, Marko Mikhelson, MP and chairman of Estonia’s foreign affairs committee, said that despite Eastern Europe sounding the alarm for some years, Western powers had created their own problems by failing to deal with Putin’s true intentions but also by inviting him to the table of power. Indeed, it was only in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea that Russia’s G8 membership was suspended.
Also taking part in the conference session on leadership in the 21st chaired by Sky News defence editor, Deborah Haynes, was the retired US Army General Ben Hodges. The general agreed that the West had been complacent although not incompetent in its handling of the Ukraine conflict, stating that effective leadership is constituted by clearly defined objectives. As Hodges also pointed out, Joe Biden has successfully held together fifty countries in their support for Ukraine although the President has still refused to explicitly say the US wants Ukraine to win.
When asked by Haynes why so many of Ukraine’s allies were asleep to the geopolitical gravity of the conflict, Luke Coffey, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, insisted that ignorance of the importance of former Soviet states could be playing a role. For Coffey, states like Georgia, Moldova, Lithuania, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan could all fall prey to Russian influence if Ukraine is defeated.
On a positive note, Hodges said that although the West may be asleep to certain dangers, it has the strength of agreeing on a common purpose. Unlike the fractured Russian leadership and a conscripted army of soldiers who don’t believe in the war they are fighting, the West is united behind freedom and a rules-based international order.
But without clear leadership, Hodges argued that the West risks simultaneously prolonging and losing general support for the war.
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