Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) A conference has been told that Ukraine’s drawn-out accession process to NATO and the EU has “exposed” Europe’s “vulnerabilities.”
Kyllike Sillaste-Elling, who until recently was Estonia’s ambassador to NATO, said the “endgame” for the EU in the continuing Russia-Ukraine war will be decided on “how well-coordinated and integrated Europe is.”
Sillaste-Elling was the Estonian ambassador in the country’s Permanent Representation to NATO between 2017 and 2021.
She was speaking via video link from Tallinn, the Estonia capital, to the Friends of Europe’s Peace, Security and Defence Summit held in Brussels on Thursday.
The former ambassador said that protecting the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine will be dependent on the EU’s ability to stay coordinated.
Speaking about the potential of the Bucharest Summit in 2008 where Ukraine was promised it would one day become a NATO member, she pointed out that while it gave hope to the citizens, ultimately without a clear roadmap, it exposed “vulnerabilities” in Europe’s coordination.
Sillaste-Elling, who is now Under Secretary for Political Affairs in Estonia, said, “By leaving things open-ended, Russia felt they could take radical steps leading to a full-scale invasion.”
The former ambassador said that by granting Ukraine EU membership status, “it gave hope, but we now need to fill that with practical steps.”
“From our point of view, the existing European security architecture needs to be strengthened, NATO needs to be strengthened, in order to make this aggression impossible in the future.”
Further comment came from Jaap de hoop Scheffer, a former Secretary General of NATO, who said, “There has never been a consensual European policy on Russia.”
Also referring to the Bucharest process in 2008, Scheffer said one should not “make promises you can’t keep or deliver”.
“Let’s be serious. Invest more in global south. The success of our policies depends on the resilience of our democracies,” Scheffer continued.
Speaking during the same panel at the summit was Dmytro Zolotukhin, founder of the Institute of Post-Information Society and former deputy minister of information policy for Ukraine.
He spoke about why aerial defence will require greater investment from the EU. “Ukraine will jump to Israel’s Iron Shield model, but Ukraine is several times bigger than Israel, and will require larger amount of investment to build this Iron Shield.”
“Ukrainians are fighting Europe’s war,” he went onto say.
The annual summit is the flagship event of FoE’s Peace, Security and Defence programme. Bringing together senior decision-makers with “out-of-the-box” movers and shakers, the summit allows for an in-depth and innovative discussion on today’s most pressing security and defence issues.