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Estonia’s former president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, in an interview with Foreign Policy, declared the Baltic nations must look at what America is actually doing in terms of reinforcing the Baltic regions against perceived aggression from the Russian Federation, rather than what President Trump says.
Trump has been campaigning to force NATO member countries to pay their required investment into their own defense capabilities, and the NATO alliance, rather than rely on the American defense umbrella, and essentially the American taxpayer, to defend Europe.
“I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding about Article 5 [of NATO’s founding treaty],” Ilves said, adding that applying Article 5 would be discussed if a member state has been attacked. “It’s not as if any country can just go off starting a war and then summon Article 5,” he said.
“But in this case, we see that there is a fairly strong and long continuity in terms of the policy from the [Pentagon] regarding defense for the Baltic countries and Poland. A lot of the speculation is based on off the cuff remarks that haven’t actually translated into policy in any way. At least as of yet,” he said, reported The Baltic Times.
The former Estonian leader also commented on NATO’s reaction to the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, which he saw as inviting Russia to continue aggressive activities in its ‘near abroad’.
“The Georgian war was treated as a one-off that had no implications for anything. That was the prevalent attitude at the time. But there was a sharper reaction in 2014; there was more shock from Crimea and [the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash],” Ilves said.