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‘Everything’ on table to help Ukraine beat Putin, Estonian PM says

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Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has said Western leaders must not rule out sending ground troops to Ukraine, days after French President Emmanuel Macron caused a storm by hinting it was a possibility, APA reports citing Politico.

Macron's words sparked a backlash from other allied governments, whose leaders rushed to insist that troops were not about to be deployed.

But Kallas said leaders must discuss all possibilities behind closed doors, including what more can be done to help Ukraine.

“I think it is also the signals that we are sending to Russia, that we are not ruling out different things,” Kallas told POLITICO's Power Play podcast. “Because all the countries have understood that we have to do everything so that Ukraine wins and Russia loses this war.”

While most other EU countries ruled out sending troops to Ukraine — including major players such as Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. — Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said Wednesday he was grateful for the debate that Macron had initiated, adding “nothing can be taken off the table, no option can be rejected out of hand.”

Moscow reacted angrily to Macron's remarks, warning that deploying Western troops to Ukraine would inevitably lead to conflict between Russia and NATO.

Kallas, who in the past has expressed interest in becoming NATO’s next secretary-general, said she still believes the job should go to a leader whose country meets the alliance’s 2-percent-of-GDP defense spending target. But with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte positioned to get the role — now he has the blessing of several key countries — that’s unlikely to happen.

While Kallas agreed that Rutte has “positive qualities,” she noted that he would be the fourth secretary-general from the Netherlands, whereas there has never been a NATO chief from Estonia, or indeed from any of the Baltic countries.

“There is a question whether there are first-rank and second-rank countries in NATO,” she said. “Are we equals or are we not equals? So these questions still remain.”

With former U.S. President Donald Trump inching closer to returning to the White House, many Western leaders worry they'll be left on their own protecting Kyiv from Moscow's aggression. The Republican candidate has long questioned Washington’s commitment to NATO and recently threatened to abandon what he considers to be NATO's freeloaders.

Kallas said Trump's views gave European countries even more reason to boost their defense spending — something she believes they should have done long ago.

"Every country chooses their own leaders, and we have to work with the leaders that these democracies choose for themselves," she said. "But we have to take into account and consider what he has been saying."

If not NATO, another option for Kallas might be to become the liberals’ lead candidate in June's European Parliament election, a possibility that has been touted.

Kallas said she is still weighing her choices.

“Right now it's up to me to really give a response whether I am able to take this up,” she said.

“[On] one side, I really want to help the liberals to do a better result than many parties around Europe,” Kallas added. “But of course, I would be in the fire here in Estonia and I have a lot on my plate.”

On the Ukraine war, Kallas also said criticism of Germany’s financial and military support for Kyiv is unjust.

"If you really look into the numbers, what they have given to Ukraine, I think it is not fair that Germany has been bashed so much because they have done a lot," Kallas said.

She also defended former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s legacy despite criticism that Germany was too dependent on Russian energy during her time in office.

"She's still a great leader. I don't necessarily agree with all of her policies, but that doesn't mean that she isn't a great leader," Kallas said.

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