February 7, 2023

Artis Pabriks said any European nation going against the interests of Ukraine are guilty of “betrayal” in what was likely to be a thinly veiled swoop at Germany.

Russia has “already lost” to Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin’s desperate nuclear threats will do nothing to prevent his inevitable defeat, a European defence chief has said.

However, Artis Pabriks, Latvia’s defence minister, took a thinly veiled swipe at an unspecified European country, likely to be Germany, whom he accused of “betrayal” by going against the interests of both his country and Ukraine itself.

Mr Pabriks, who also served as a member of the European Parliament from 2014 to 2018, made his outspoken remarks during an interview with Radio Free Europe in Riga, Latvia’s capital.

He said: “Even if Putin drops one of two nuclear bombs, or something happens to the nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia, does he really think he can win Ukraine over with this?

“He cannot win Ukraine over like this, that’s impossible.”

Nothing Putin did would persuade the West to halt its support for Ukraine, Mr Pabriks pointed out.

He added: “In other words if someone in Russia still has common sense – I still do not consider Russians to be out of their minds – they must understand that by dropping nuclear bombs they cannot win this war.

“They have already lost.

“Given that, there is no military point to do this because it will not improve Russia’s position, it will only make it worse.”

In comments addressed directly to Ukraine itself, Mr Pabriks said: “The outcome of the war in Ukraine will have a big and serious impact on the interests of my country and my people.

“In other words, Ukraine must win.

“This is in our national interests, because to a certain degree, Ukrainians are fighting for our interests.

“You are fighting for Europe, for democracy, for freedom of human rights.”

With that in mind, he also questioned the commitment of some of Ukraine’s partners in Europe, explaining: “If someone in Europe does not understand that, not only do they do against the interests of Ukraine, but they also go against the interests of Latvia.

“And if they are members of the European Union and NATO, and go against the interests of my country, what else is it but a betrayal?”

While he did not mention Germany by name, Mr Pabriks has been a frequent critic in recent months.

In January, prior to Putin’s invasion on February 24, he branded Berlin “immoral and hypocritical” for its links with Russia and China, warning its behaviour risked driving a wedge between western and eastern European nations.

On Friday, he tweeted his interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine, commenting: “We expect more courage from German society and faster reactions from the Federal Government.

“Almost everything depends on Germany. We are at war. And that’s where the largest countries in Europe have to lead.”

Speaking yesterday in response to a question about calls from within his own party for more diplomatic efforts to end the war in Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said all relevant political actors in Germany, and everyone in government, agreed that Ukraine’s territorial integrity must be preserved.

Social Democrat caucus leader Rolf Muetzenich caused a stir at the weekend after highlighting opinion polls suggesting many Germans had wanted diplomatic efforts aimed at ending the war get underway as soon as Putin launched his invasion.

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