Mart Kuldkepp Russia's greatest war secret is starting to unveil itself

Mart Kuldkepp
, historian
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko / POOL / AFP / Scanpix
  • Russia's military resources are not infinite.
  • Moscow hopes to reach an agreement with the West.
  • Estonia's assessment of the Russian threat has been realistic.

The Russian army and economy need a breather, historian and columnist Mart Kuldkepp writes.

In the current phase of the war, Russia's inability to make progress in the direction of Kharkiv is striking. This is due to the Ukrainian defense forces' ammunition shortages staring to abate and permission having been granted to use Western-supplied long-range precision capabilities against Russian territory. In the light of this, Russia's greatest war secret is starting to unveil itself: their military resources are not infinite, and even with the help of Iran and North Korea, it is impossible to replenish everything immediately in such an intense conflict, despite the massive propaganda apparatus working daily to hide this fact.

This is also confirmed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's recent peace proposal to Ukraine, which was not just his own initiative and was, of course, immediately rejected by Ukraine. The narrative spread by Orbán and other channels—that Russia is undoubtedly winning the war, Ukraine's victory is impossible, and now is the last chance to make peace, on Russia's terms, of course—can only mean that Russia is struggling. Otherwise, the aggressor would have no need for «peace» in a war they started.

Even pro-Kremlin Russian media have recently discussed the need to realistically assess Western countries' capabilities and strengths, hastily adding that this would help destroy those same countries more effectively in the future. However, in the fantasy world of Russian propaganda, any semblance of realism signals a willingness to compromise and a search for negotiation opportunities.

The appointment of Kaja Kallas as the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy is extremely irritating for Russia.

Moscow is likely calculating that pro-Russian far-right forces are rising to power in the transatlantic world, with whom it will be possible to reach an agreement that would give the exhausted Russian army and economy a brief respite. In this context, the appointment of Kaja Kallas as the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy is extremely irritating for Russia. This development does not fit with such a narrative, let alone the broader problem that any influence from the Baltic states and their very existence contradicts Russia's understanding of how international politics should work.

The recent fierce social media campaign against Kaja Kallas and her family shows that the «Estonization» of EU foreign policy, feared by Sergey Lavrov, is indeed seen by Russia as a significant threat to their potential deal. This can even be considered a form of recognition.

However, the issue is not that Estonia has somehow been given the opportunity to shape EU foreign policy by European grace—despite the loud outcry from critics calling it «a huge mistake». Rather, the facts that have emerged over the past couple of years have compelled other EU member states to acknowledge that Estonia's and other Baltic states' assessments of the Russian threat have been accurate. Realism is not the ideology of Kaja Kallas, Estonia, or Eastern European Russophobes; its parameters are defined by life itself, no matter how much Russia dislikes it.