The EU must redefine its defense strategy and show a “willingness to use military strength,” Estonia’s prime minister said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Kaja Kallas warned that the bloc must “exercise strategic patience because peace is not going to break out tomorrow” in the Russia-Ukraine war.
“In terms of security, we have changed more in the last couple of weeks than we have in last 30 years,” with the EU starting to act as a “geopolitical union,” said Kallas, whose small nation used to be part of the Soviet Union and now borders Russia.
At the same time, she argued that the EU has to stick to its sanctions and support Ukraine’s independence because Russian President Vladimir “Putin will come to test us.”
Kallas called on the bloc to redefine its defense strategy and strengthen continental security by “smart containment.”
She stressed that “a stronger European defense means planning or spending wisely and in coordination,” strictly in cooperation with NATO.
“In stepping up European defense, we must find consensus within the EU that sometimes, the best way of achieving peace is the willingness to use military strength,” Kallas stressed.
Strategic Compass defense plan
EU leaders later this week are expected to adopt the bloc’s new defense strategy presented by EU foreign policy Josep Borrell.
The document – officially called Strategic Compass – sets concrete proposals and timelines for strengthening EU defense, such as setting up a swiftly deployable EU force of 5,000 troops, investing in industrial capabilities, and securing the bloc against cyberattacks.
The war on Ukraine has drawn international condemnation, led to financial sanctions on Moscow, and spurred an exodus of global companies from Russia.
The EU has adopted three sanctions packages against Russia, targeting among others President Russian Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, excluding seven Russian banks from the SWIFT international banking system, and banning broadcasting activities of the Sputnik and RT/Russia Today media outlets.
At least 474 civilians have been killed and 864 others injured in Ukraine since the beginning of the war on Feb. 24, according to UN figures.
Over 2 million people have also fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, UN high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi said on Tuesday.