On February 20, ICDS hosted a round table discussion on Estonia-Ukraine future defense cooperation with a delegation that included members of the Verkhovna Rada and Riigikogu (the Ukrainian and Estonian parliaments) as well as Estonian political parties and the Defense Industry Association.
The discussion focused on recent dramatic developments in the Russian – Ukrainian conflict. The Ukrainian representatives emphasized the critical stage that the conflict has now reached, arguing that Russian aggression is a challenge not just to Ukraine but to Estonia and other European countries as well. They stressed that urgent Western help to Ukraine–in the form of defensive weapons–is particularly necessary in systems is vital in strengthening the Ukrainian military so that it can contain the Russian threat. For their part, Estonian participants–including ICDS researchers–identified specific ways in which Estonia can offer support to security and defense sector reform in Ukraine, while also enhancing bilateral defense cooperation. In particular, they agreed that Estonia can readily support Ukraine in the longer term by means of sharing expertise and best practices; providing coaching and training; and supplying indirect warfare equipment. Together, both sides identified key differences in the defense industries of both countries: for example, in Ukraine, all defense industry companies are state owned, while in Estonia they are all private firms–the vast majority being small in size.
The Ukrainian delegation consisted of Olena Sotnyk (Self-Help Party: national list), Viktor Romanyuk (Popular Front: Kyiv Oblast), Oleksandr Kodola (Popular Front: Chernihiv Oblast), Oleh Barna (Petro Poroshenko Block: Ternopil Oblast), and Viktor Vovk (Radical Party: national list), while the Estonian representatives included MP Kalev Kallemets (Reform: Hiiu-, Laane-, & Saaremaa), former members of parliament Mart Nutt (Pro Patria & Res Publica Union) & Silver Meikar (Social Democratic Party), and Kuldar Väärsi & Sten Reimann of the Estonian Defence Industry Cluster.