Washington seems to be more concerned about riots in Moscow than the occupation of Kiev

Erkki Koort
The exterior of the US Capitol is seen as Senators work to advance the bipartisan infrastructure bill in Washington, U.S., August 8, 2021. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger
The exterior of the US Capitol is seen as Senators work to advance the bipartisan infrastructure bill in Washington, U.S., August 8, 2021. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger Photo: Sarah Silbiger / REUTERS / Scanpix
  • Ukraine is good at war, but without help it will be in trouble
  • Among the allies, Russian intelligence has worked hard
  • Reality does not confirm supporting Ukraine in the required volume

Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine has reached a critical phase, because mutual disagreements prevent Kiev from being supported in the necessary volume, writes Erkki Koort, security expert of Postimees and the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences.

When Russia attacked Ukraine with full-scale military action on February 24, 2022, the Western world began to rally relatively quickly, and support gradually increased. Before that, only a few countries had helped with lethal weapons, Estonia was one of the first.

Weapon systems, which are doing a very good job in the hands of the Ukrainians, started arriving slowly and are still few and far between, and the West continues to have a spasm when it comes to some offensive weapons.

It is clear that the time that was expected to work against Putin is working against Ukraine, at least for now. Russia has been surprisingly ineffective in ramping up its weapons production, but Europe and America have been even slower. Moreover, Russia has managed to find alternative suppliers in the form of North Korea, Iran and probably also China. The interest of all the mentioned countries is not so much the victory of Russia, but the defeat of the USA and NATO.

Russia is also indirectly at war with the USA, because in their world view, the main opponent is still Washington, and their allies are just vassals. This is also the case with Ukraine, where Moscow undoubtedly wants to conquer Kiev, but a very big goal is to break the US sphere of influence. The lack of ability of the US to understand the shadow war against it and to repel its effects is surprising. This process is monitored from the NATO capitals and Kiev as well as from Moscow, Beijing, Tehran and Pyongyang. Estonia's security also directly depends on the success of effective countermeasures.

The US has been a major supporter of Ukraine, but it has acted unevenly and also erratically. This is especially true for giving weapons that have a longer range. Just as Germany is afraid to give up its Taurus missiles, there are very damaging messages pointing to a US plan to potentially dispose of ATACMS missiles, instead of giving them to Kiev.

Aid packages in Europe and the US have stalled

Part of the reason is war fatigue and domestic political pressure, and it is quite certain that the Russian security apparatus and special services have worked hard for this. It must be admitted that apparently their influence is much stronger than it appears or could be expected. This must be recognized and Russia's influence and influencers must be dealt with substantively and resolutely. There are such influential people in Washington, Brussels and Tallinn.

Sometimes there may be other reasons behind the lack of help. There is certainly something in Washington's calculations, on the basis of which decisions about armaments are made. Apparently, they still believe in the collapse of the system in Russia, and they certainly have information that the public does not know. US intelligence warned of a Russian invasion in 2022. At the same time, US intelligence predicted in the first month of the war that Russian logistics would collapse. The US judged it by its own standards, but since nothing works properly in Russia anyway, everyone is used to it and the system just keeps ticking.

The common concern of Washington, Paris and Berlin is the future of Russia. It is Russia's, because the perspective of the EU given to Ukraine shows the direction of Kyiv. The fear of the instability of the nuclear state gained momentum during the Prigozhin adventure march on Moscow in June 2023. It scared and showed the possible future of Russia. The low, slow and limited supply of weapons is primarily related to fear for Moscow's future. Ukraine is expected to win, but not by a huge margin. Must be mentioned that this expectation is not adequate.

The fear of escalation is undoubtedly one of the main points of reference for decision-making, but looking at Moscow's rhetoric, a full-scale conflict with NATO should already be on hand by today. What is surprising is Washington's lack of ability or willingness to see that, in addition to Russia waging an open war, Iran and North Korea are also waging their own shadow war with the United States on the Donetsk steppes. If the US understands this, the actions today do not confirm it, and unfortunately it makes it look the same.

There are partially certain reasons for the delay of help, but these are details, if the front is already faltering at some point due to the lack of help. If Russia, North Korea, and Iran are free to plan their next steps, it doesn't matter what Washington thinks if it doesn't act. Words continue to believe in a Ukrainian victory, but actions in some capitals show concern that Russia should not lose too much.