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Estonian PM: sending NATO instructors to Ukraine to not draw Alliance into war

Kallas believes that a possible attack on NATO trainers by Russia will not automatically trigger NATO's Article 5 on mutual defence. 

Estonian PM: sending NATO instructors to Ukraine to not draw Alliance into war
Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas

Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas believes that sending NATO instructors to Ukraine to train the military cannot draw the Alliance into a war with Russia.

She said this in an interview with The Financial Times, LRT reports.

According to Kallas, NATO should not be afraid to send its trainers, as she believes that if Russian forces attacked the Alliance, it would not automatically trigger NATO's Article 5 on mutual defence.

"I can't imagine that if someone gets hurt there, those who sent their people will say: "This is Article 5. Let's bomb Russia". "That's not how it works. This does not happen automatically. Therefore, these fears are unfounded," the head of the Estonian government said. 

She also reminded that if anyone sends instructors to Ukraine, they must understand that the country is at war and it is a risk zone. 

However, in Estonia, such a step requires parliamentary approval.

"It's an open public discussion, but I don't think we should rule anything out at this stage," Kallas said, adding that Russian propaganda is aimed at war with NATO, so it doesn't need any excuses.

"No matter what we do... If they want to attack, they will attack," said the Estonian prime minister. 

According to The Financial Times, officials in Estonia, as well as Lithuania and Latvia, emphasise that the security of their countries is closely linked to Ukraine's success. They fear that its defeat will encourage Russian President Vladimir Putin to test NATO's unity, most likely in the Baltic region.

What is NATO's fifth article on mutual defence?

  • Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty provides that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all members and triggers a response from all member states. The decision to invoke Article 5 of NATO is made after consultations among the bloc's members.
  • In the event that Article 5 is triggered, NATO member states can provide any assistance they deem appropriate under the circumstances. This is a national responsibility, and each country will decide what kind of assistance it deems appropriate in each case. 
  • Assistance will be provided in coordination with other NATO members, and it will not always be exclusively military assistance. The nature of the assistance will depend on the availability of material resources of each member state. Thus, it is up to each individual country to decide what its contribution will be.
  • In NATO's history, Article 5 was first activated after the terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001. At that time, collective defence measures included more active intelligence sharing, assistance to the United States in air policing, etc.
  • NATO has taken practical collective defence measures at Turkey's request on three occasions, namely in 1991, during the Gulf War, with the deployment of Patriot air defence systems; in 2003, during the Iraq crisis, with the adoption of a defence programme and the launch of Operation Display Determination; and in 2012, with the deployment of Patriot air defence systems again in response to the situation in Syria.
  • Following Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, and in response to growing security challenges emanating from the South, including ruthless attacks by ISIS and other terrorist groups on several continents, NATO has undertaken the most extensive reinforcement of collective defence since the Cold War. 
  • In the wake of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, NATO is taking additional steps to further strengthen deterrence and defence across the Alliance. Allies additionally deployed thousands of troops on high alert.
  • In addition, at an emergency summit on 24 March 2022, Allied leaders decided to strengthen existing battlegroups and to create four new multinational battlegroups in Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary. This brought the total number of multinational battlegroups to eight. 
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