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Opinion | Estonia’s Prime Minister: Russia’s Putin Cannot Think He’s Won This War

We at NATO have a solid basis to work from. Members are committed to the defense of the whole of NATO territory, and in recent years the alliance has taken some bold, necessary steps. Among them was the establishment in 2016 of an enhanced forward presence of allied troops — multinational, combat-ready battle groups — in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. On Wednesday the alliance announced that it will likely double the number of battle groups on its eastern flank.

But we need to go further. The forward presence needs to become forward defense, of land, air and sea. That would mean more combat-ready allied troops stationed permanently in the Baltic States, supported by long-range artillery, air defense and other enabling capabilities. It would mean more NATO fighters in our skies ready to switch from peacetime air policing to wartime air defense. And it would mean more NATO ships patrolling the Baltic Sea.

Third, we must paralyze the Kremlin’s war machine. We must do so not only to end the bloodshed and occupation in Ukraine but also to disarm Russia economically, to prevent Mr. Putin from further expanding the war.

At the heart of the machine is oil and gas. Last year exports from hydrocarbons amounted to roughly 40 percent of the Russian state budget, and this year they’re likely to turn into the biggest source. Our focus must be on drying up these revenues. The European Union has already announced plans to cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds by the end of this year. But it can and should go further. We should also put some of the payments for Moscow’s oil and gas in a special third-party account so that the revenue does not go toward financing the war. And we should direct a significant share of these funds to a future reconstruction plan for Ukraine.

None of this will be easy or cost-free. And the time will surely come when we hear calls for the easing of sanctions. But we — NATO, the European Union and individual countries — must be patient and remain firm. There will be no business as usual with Mr. Putin’s Russia. In fact, there can be no business at all.

Fourth, we must help Ukrainians fleeing the war.

Moscow may think that forcing millions of Ukrainians to leave and seek shelter across Europe will destabilize our societies. This is also part of Mr. Putin’s war aims, and one of the tools of his hybrid warfare. We must show him he’s wrong.

Neighboring countries have already been extraordinarily welcoming in such a short period of time, and the European Union immediately gave Ukrainians the right to live and work in the bloc. In Estonia, we have welcomed many Ukrainian refugees, who now make up around 1.6 percent of our population. All countries should do as much as they can to provide a safe haven for Ukrainian refugees until they can return home.

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