Kaja Kallas is the prime minister of Estonia. Petteri Orpo is the prime minister of Finland.
As Ukraine continues to fight for freedom against Russia’s brutal aggression, the free world must stay the course and maintain unwavering support for the country.
First and foremost, what we need is a long-term military resource commitment to Ukraine. We are in a battle of wills, and we shouldn’t be afraid of our own power.
Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, our unity and our support for Ukraine have been unprecedented. This has been driven by the strong conviction that military force shouldn’t be used to invade neighboring countries in the 21st century, and that all countries — big and small — should be free to choose their own future.
Ukraine’s resistance has been greatly empowered by both European and American support. Together, the transatlantic community has given the country military, humanitarian and economic assistance, while imposing some of the toughest sanctions ever against Russia.
Russia’s strategy, meanwhile, is built on the hope that we will tire first. The Kremlin remains confident it has more resolve than we do, still believing it can outlast, outproduce and outperform Ukraine, the Euro-Atlantic community and other global allies and partners.
It is now time to prove this isn’t the winning strategy.
According to Eurobarometer, 87 percent of Estonians either totally agree or tend to agree that the EU should continue to show solidarity with Ukraine. For Finland, the figure is 88 percent. This speaks to the unwavering determination of both Estonians and Finns to support Ukraine.
Since February 2022, Estonia’s total assistance to the country has amounted to over €400 million — or more than 1 percent of its GDP. Finland’s total bilateral assistance to Ukraine has amounted to €2.2 billion and includes 20 packages of defense materiel, as well as development cooperation, humanitarian aid and civilian materiel assistance. Moreover, Finland is one of Ukraine’s biggest EU donors of energy sector equipment, such as generators and transformers.
Those who have fought and paid for peace with lives understand the true cost of freedom. Estonia and Finland don’t take hard-won freedom for granted. We know from our histories that it has to be fought for — no matter the cost.
What’s at stake in Ukraine today is the very idea of freedom. It remains something that Russia and other autocracies fear and want to destroy.
Russia wants to erase Ukraine as a sovereign state and redraw the borders of Europe by military force. This vision of “security” must not be allowed to prevail.
Peace on Russia’s terms wouldn’t mean peace in Europe. It would boost Russian nationalism and imperialism, and authoritarian regimes globally would learn that the free world is weak and has no stamina, leading to more conflict. Hence, supporting Ukraine isn’t just about supporting Ukraine. Fundamentally, it is about defending the core principles of the U.N. Charter and international law, including territorial integrity and sovereignty — that is, the right to exist as a country.
This understanding is widely shared, and it has been demonstrated by the majority of countries voting for U.N. General Assembly Resolutions — demanding the Russian Federation withdraw all military forces from Ukraine’s territory, and affirming the international community’s commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Here, the message is clear: Supporting Ukraine isn’t only about our European values and security, it’s also a matter of universal values and global security. The price we pay to support Ukraine in its efforts to defeat Russian imperialism is little compared to what would follow if aggression were to pay off now.
That’s why our strategy demands clear commitment to reinforce long-term support for Ukraine. Our number one focus is arms, ammunition and training, all of which must be sustained at a magnitude sufficient for Ukraine’s capacity to defend itself.
We know what is required. Together, it is affordable and viable.
As we convene at the European Council this week, a resolute demonstration of unfaltering long-term support for Ukraine is paramount. The eyes of the world are upon us, and at this critical juncture, our actions must mirror our words. The moment demands that our steadfast commitment align with our pledge of “as long as it takes.”
Europe’s response will send signals across the Atlantic, to our friends in Ukraine, as well as to Russia — a signal that we are prepared for the prolonged phase of the war, and that it isn’t us who will get tired first.
It is thus imperative the Council affirms ongoing strong budgetary and military support and decides to open accession negotiations with Ukraine, thereby underscoring our resolute commitment to its European future.
Collaborating with the G7 and Ukraine, the EU is also actively engaged in forging lasting security commitments for the country. And we must reach a solution on robust and ongoing military assistance both through the Ukraine Assistance Fund under the European Peace Facility — the cornerstone of Europe’s security commitments, without which their credibility would be compromised.
We will help defend Ukraine. We will not be threatened, and we will not compromise on the freedom, liberty and security of either the Ukrainian people or our own.
In fortifying our European security, it is crucial that we bolster our ammunition production and defense industry, while enhancing our military capabilities. Here, Finland and Estonia both deliver in bringing stability to our region and contributing to its security.
We recognize that the most effective deterrent against Russia’s threats lies in a robust national defense, collective defense as NATO and deep collaboration with other partners in the free world.
History will judge us on the actions we take now — whether we let aggression pay off or stay the course and ensure freedom prevails.