reede, juuli 17, 2009

kaitsemisest

There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about defense.

Most recently, Atlanticist thought leaders from central and eastern Europe sent the American president a letter to voice some disappointment with NATO, reaffirm their belief in the benefits of transatlantic relations, and stress the need for the same contingency planning that older NATO members enjoy.

Signing on behalf of Estonia were Mart Laar and Kadri Liik, head of the International Center for Defense Studies in Tallinn. Other notable signatories were Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa, and Vaira Vike-Freiberga.

It is right that Estonians would like to know exactly how NATO would fulfill its Article 5 duties to come to its aid in the event of a conflict. At the same time, I would personally like to know what kinds of security guarantees other small northern European NATO members like Norway, Denmark, and Iceland enjoy.

What would NATO do if the Russian Northern Fleet would anchor off Kirkenes and annex the city? How would NATO respond should the Baltic Fleet leave port at Kaliningrad and launch a blockade and invasion of Copenhagen? We treat such ideas as preposterous but, other than the nuclear option, what would be the response?

Lost in the shuffle here when talking about the CEE is that Estonia is the last stop on the central and eastern European highway (or lack thereof). There are two very large nations in our neighborhood, Sweden and Finland, both of which play significant roles in our economic, not to mention cultural lives. While we use their banks, buy their products, and talk on their telecommunication networks, it seems our security has been outsourced to Washington.

I have no doubt that there are strong links between the defense ministries in Tallinn, Stockholm, and Helsinki. A Nordic Battle Group has even been created under the auspisces of the EU. But I keep feeling that, if we are talking about Estonian security, it would be helpful to clarify what roles two of its largest and wealthiest neighbors would play in a given crisis. Until then, we will have an incomplete picture of how Estonia fits into the puzzle of northern European security.

98 kommentaari:

Jim Hass ütles ...

Logistical support to a security threat in Estonia is complicated by that traffic jam known as Poland. Sweden can be relied on for only covert support, since they are historically nuetral. Since decission making is so slow and difficult in the EU, it will take weeks to get even get a resolution. Best hope is for Estonia to precise for its own defense long enough for the rest of the world to make up its collective mind? Perhaps bear baiting is a dangerous sport best left to the strong and foolish

Giustino ütles ...

Sweden can be relied on for only covert support, since they are historically neutral.

"Neutrality" in northern Europe basically means appeasing whoever is the dominant power. During most of the Second World War, the Swedes were quite friendly to Germany. During the Cold War, they acquiesed to most Soviet demands. Now, they are in NATO's Partnership for Peace.

Lingüista ütles ...

This "neutrality" is the reason why I wouldn't count on the Swedes. The Norwegians seem less reluctant to fight, and the Finns have even famously fought the Winter War (and later the Continuation War) against Russia.

But all in all, I don't see European responses to conflicts that are quick enough to satisfy today's defense needs. I mean, Europe wasn't able to act as one to solve the Yugoslavian conflict. Should any of the scenarios come to pass that you describe -- blockade on Copenhagen, etc. -- I'm afraid we'll be left with the US as the one ally who is willing to respond fast.

It's a pity, because Europe has considerable conventional striking forces (the Bundeswehr, the French and the British Army). But the political will to deploy them in Europe seems to be lacking.

stockholm slender ütles ...

But for these scenarios to happen the security environment of Europe (and the world) would have to have changed into something completely different from the present situation. And if Nato in such a hypothetical would not react to an attack on a member nation however small, it would mean a gigantic loss of face and credibility. I would rather worry about more realistic threats. Maybe the security environment will change into something unregocnizable, but it won't happen overnight, it surely would take at least a decade for such a seismic shift.

As for the Nordic countries, I would not really count on any direct military help. If the crisis would get so bad, both countries would desperately want to stay out. On the other hand they would be of much help before things get so dire. In any case I think that both Finnish and Swedish membership in Nato in some years is getting more likely. (And Sweden actually had extensive covert co-operation with Nato during the Cold War, and it really did not much appease the Soviet Union beyond the fundamental decision of staying out and having considerable independent defence capabilities - which it is now busily dismantling.)

Giustino ütles ...

As for the Nordic countries, I would not really count on any direct military help. If the crisis would get so bad, both countries would desperately want to stay out.

How could they stay out? It hurts them too and impacts their security. The last time this country was occupied, planes took off from Estonia to bomb Helsinki. Sweden, meantime, had to absorb boatloads of war refugees (some of whom it turned back -- that's what I mean by appeasing Soviet power).

That's sort of what I am getting at in this post -- Nordic contingency planning would be defined by real interests, not just values-based defense of fellow democracies. The Swedes have a real interest that the billions of dollars they put in this country since 1991 don't just vanish overnight.

Besides, from my perspective, there isn't much of a difference between Estonia and Sweden or Finland. We all sort of swallowed the Georgian war because those places were basically frozen war zones. Could you imagine tanks parading down the streets of Tartu past the local K-Rautakesko or the Swedbank office? They might as well be in Tampere or Uppsala.

And that's another part of the equation -- mental security. Why do Finns and Swedes sleep more soundly at night? Why do they believe that, if they just stay out, nothing will happen to them? Things have happened to them in the past. Is this just the residue of Cold War Stockholm syndrome?

stockholm slender ütles ...

Well, I guess largely because their Cold War policies are still deemed fundamentally successful by the foreign policy elites. I guess that could be negatively called a policy of free ride (because such neutrality would not have been possible without the armed power of the West), but no country is obligated to observe very noble moral principles other than its own self-interest (certainly not small countries at least - we have enough experience of the "morals" of the great powers). So, it still is arguable what Finland for example would gain by gaining Russian wrath (and probably increased troop concentrations on the border) by joining Nato. Though I think it likely that after Halonen we'll apply for the membership. And I do support joining myself(though quite unenthusiastically).

Giustino ütles ...

Stockholm,

I have come to see the EU as an umbrella organization for former imperial powers. The French and Italians have their Mediterranean initiatives, the Portuguese want to reach out to Africa and South America, the Germans took the lead in recognizing the break up of the western Balkans and their integration into Europe. And so the Swedes and Finns argued for Estonian EU membership.

One could see the same effect taking place within an enlarged NATO that includes Sweden and Finland, where there are different circles of power. It would be purely defensive, and I think it would work well. Within a generation, the idea of a blockade of Tallinn would seem as realistic as an air raid on Helsinki.

innovatsioon ütles ...

A few principal errors here, I think. "Sweden and Finland, both of which play significant roles in our economic, not to mention cultural lives. While we use their banks, buy their products, and talk on their telecommunication networks.."

Because it is of course THEM using OUR banks and buying our products (our banks, our milk, our... whatever :) ). While what products of Sweden or Finland do we buy...?? Apart from of course buying mostly everything from everywhere else, but that's international division of labour, or what.
The roles of Sweden and Finland in Estonian cultural life completely elude me as well... perhaps am a philistine but have always believed the two countries mentioned here are pretty much individualist in their cultural life. Something they do over there, but how does it reach over here... have not noticed, have no idea.

What regards the rest of the topic then a country's best defence is its diplomatic skills. Now go talk about it in Estonia, of course, a country where top defence documents are signed by the kinds of Mart Laar and Kadri Liik - a historian, and a journalist... :-O

While any military solutions are simply a manifestation of the males' everlasting desire for a more colourful plumage, along with a more spacious stage to strut it on. But I guess we are stuck with it for as long as there will be men around in this world.

plasma-jack ütles ...

I have come to see the EU as an umbrella organization for former imperial powers.

Don't forget Austria, it's quite active in the Balkans.

Giustino ütles ...

While what products of Sweden or Finland do we buy...??

I just bought a Geisha chocolate, made by Fazer, a Finnish company.

The roles of Sweden and Finland in Estonian cultural life completely elude me as well ...

A lot of Finnish musical groups come through Tartu, I gather because people go and see them. And a lot of Estonian artists and writers live at least part time in Finland. Two come immediately to mind -- Imbi Paju and Kristiina Kass. Then there's Sofi Oksanen, whatever nationality you would like to consider her.

My neighbor in Setomaa works in Finland, a lot of Estonians work there. It seems that there is a lot of traffic between the two countries.

perhaps am a philistine but have always believed the two countries mentioned here are pretty much individualist in their cultural life.

As is Estonia. Sure the people turn out for MeNaiset, but they really want to see Jaan Tätte.

Something they do over there, but how does it reach over here... have not noticed, have no idea.

A great metaphor for how all these countries might see the security issues of their neighbors.

Ask yourselves this -- how concerned are Estonians about Latvian security? How concerned are they about Polish security?

And what of those Swedes? We talk about Estonia, what would Sweden do if Finland was attacked? What did Sweden do when Norway and Denmark were occupied? One should turn over all these questions when we think about collective defense in northern Europe.

My point is basically this -- we are not getting a full picture of the security paradigm in our neighborhood if we only talk about NATO and Russia. I don't think that there should be security guarantees. Instead, I think there should be more interoperability between the defense strategies of these countries. Estonia should be as integrated into Nordic defense cooperation, as it is into the Nordic banking sector.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Absolutely, the independence of Estonia is in the fundamental security interest of Finland (and Sweden). There is no question about that and the same goes for pretty much all the ex-Soviet bloc countries in Europe, but with Estonia there are also practical, hugely important immediate geopolitical and economic concerns. Culturally Estonia is very close and there would be a most vocal and influential lobby of estophiles both at large in the society and among the various elite groups, should there be any significant threat to Estonia. There is no question of that - but in terms of direct military assistance in the context of an open armed conflict in the Baltic area I would not hold my breath as long as Finland remains outside Nato. And the same surely goes for Sweden. And anyway all these scenarios are so far-fetched in the present security context as to make all speculation quite fruitless.

Giustino ütles ...

I don't understand how they don't have contingency planning already. Isn't there some part of the NATO secretariat that sits around all day drinking tea and going over old battle plans and toying with wall-sized maps developing strategies for a surprise conflict between Minsk and Vilnius?

innovatsioon ütles ...

I personally happen to think if someone is earnestly interested in defence, in keeping the peace and good relations, then what he should be discussing is.. how to keep the peace and good relations, and not where and how future possible conflicts might occur. So all you here, are you really interested in defence, or are you (secretly) interested in fighting instead? I bet for the latter. Perhaps a city will be blown to ashes somewhere - tens or hundreds of years of human work and care gone in a few hours. Oh, what a drama! Let's send them some blankets.. Or a few thousand people lose lives? My god, what horror... to enjoy from a safe distance, over the sattelite.
You guys as a bunch are just so irresponsible every single one of you.

If tacticals of a fight is what does it for you - go play some chess? I really happen to think only a woman can really appreciate value of a human life, because we are who bear the main pain of making it happen and nurturing it through the critical age. The recent trend of making you guys at least witness some more important moments of it does not seem to have helped much.

All true about Geisha and all those names, just that the importance of something can be best tried by assessing what would be different if the thing/person etc did not exist. So, suppose there was no Geisha and all those people you named had never visited Estonia? Would you notice some kind of huge loss?

stockholm slender ütles ...

I would imagine that there are all sorts of scenarios prepared for in the various general staffs but probably with no special sense of urgency: in the current circumstances such overt military moves are simply impossible and there are no signs that this state of affairs would even change very quickly. There probably, hopefully, are more practical preparations for more gradual increases of tension in the mode of the bronze statue crisis.

Giustino ütles ...

So, suppose there was no Geisha and all those people you named had never visited Estonia? Would you notice some kind of huge loss?

Your average American probably wouldn't notice if most of Europe ceased to exist. Only when someone's honeymoon in Paris was canceled would you hear a few complaints.

Forget about Sweden. Volvos are great cars, but there are plenty of other choices.

You guys as a bunch are just so irresponsible every single one of you.

From what I understand, security arrangements lay the foundation for peace. We treat a conflict between Paris and Berlin over Alsace-Lorraine as ridiculous because the security gods have made it that way.

From what I understand, the security net over northern Europe has a few Nordic country-sized holes in it. Or does it? The security arrangement us a little ambiguous. Maybe that's why Estonians feel a little insecure.

Lingüista ütles ...

Inovatsioon, you're taking an exceedingly testosterone-driven approach to understanding defense. I don't think anybody here would actually "appreciate" the "drama" of a city destroyed by warfare -- this would be beyond stupid. Of course we have to think about how to improve relations and keep peace. The problem is whether or not this will be possible.

One of the great paradoxes of life is that often it's the measures taken for possible war that make it possible for peace to exist. In the presence of differences of power coupled with differences of wealth (no, it's not all about Darwinian sexual selection and wanting to show feathers, despite your claims to the contrary), the seeds of conflict are present--be it open warfare or simply insidious, cold-war-like behind-the-scenes manipulations.

The Romans already said, si vis pacem, para bellum. If you want peace, prepare for war. Or do you think Europe would be living such a peaceful life if there was no NATO behind it?

Nobody likes war, innovatsioon, not here at least. But to be blind to the possibility of war -- or at least of antagonistic/enmical pressure from other countries -- is to live dangerously. Just as leaving your doors unlocked when you leave, it's not a good idea.

svenskfinland ütles ...

Sadly, I suspect that Finland would not be much of a source of active help for Estonia. There are still worryingly significant tones of finlandisation in this country. We still don't go far enough in our critique of Russia - and Russia knows this, we are frequently "rewarded" by statements from the Russian authorities of Finland being the only neighbouring country it has "no significant issues" and that we're very "cooperative" and such like. We are getting better though, especially under Stubb's tenure in the Foreign ministry.

Don't forget, to our continued shame, Koivisto and Finland were not exactly amongst the loudest cheerleaders for Estonian self-determination at the end period of the Soviet occupation.

I do not see this country joining Nato anytime soon.. although at least we dismiss the idea officially these days of being neutral. Those days have gone.

innovatsioon ütles ...

Why the Swedes and Finns sleep sound - because they are not directly in anyone's way! What fool would go waste resources onto conquering a (for the purpose of this sentence here) good-for-nothing periphery? While with Estonia things used to be different. The thing is that the boatable depth of the Gulf of Finland pretty much ends with Tallinn, as also the ice-free zone in the winter. Who wants to use modern capacity boats in trade with Russia, would have to unload them up till half either in Riga or in Tallinn, only then continue to the Russian ports further on. Exactly what was also done during the Soviet period in Est and Lat.
The changing global economics I think is about to change that situation fast soon, with Europe becoming commercially more and more insignificant and all interests and other life moving to East Asia, one day we will find ourselves lying not on the Russian doorsteps any more, but in its back garden near the compost box. Which will be the best security guarantee anyone can ever wish.

And while it hasn't happened yet, it is also obvious that military measures would be a gross waste of resources if simple access is what one wants (and not show-off).A simple redirection of transit flows costs nothing in comparison, but already Estonia would be on back hinds, because if Russians do not need our ports or railways these ports and railways become pretty much totally useless.

Why would "differences in power coupled by differences in wealth" act as seeds for conflict, I do not quite see... :-O They certainly do not seem to cause any conflicts between, say, Estonia and US.. And anyway it is never the nations, those who in reality are different in wealth, who initiate conflicts. It is the heads of nations, who are either on par or then possibly the (feared) initiators are wealthier. Then what is the real underlying urge??

And no, it is not the measures for war that make peace possible but - as it was also said here - that no one essentially likes war, makes peace possible. Man is essentially lazy and comfortable and only if this state of comfort and laziness is disturbed for some reason, might he perhaps be willing to consider disturbing it even more. And the point is not that the possibility of a military conflict with whomever should be overlooked, but that you do not avoid military measures by engaging military measures.. The best way of making someone or something stronger is to fight with it or to prepare for the fight with it. Because it gives one such good excuse for doing exactly the same. Fear and hate are two of the most powerful and mobilizing emotions, why set to engage these against yourself?

What has interested me for some time actually, but am too lazy to research something totally useless for me myself, is how the nations who have surrendered in history have on average always fared better in the end than those who chose to fight. Look at the French, the Danes in Europe, for example. but this is not a very popular line of thought in a world still dominated by male administration. :) Because it takes a very, very strong man to dare to cry, but it takes an even stronger man to say: let's not fight but let's surrender, it is best for us in the long run.
:) try shatter your box of conventional thinking sometimes, it's good for you!

A.R.G ütles ...

Seriously, how can anyone think that Sweden and Finland could protect Estonia from possible Russian invasion?
USA is only one who could possibly save you, its NOT 'outsourcing', its reality... and Real military power.
Not that we are planning anything :)
If anything we could start with Eastern Ukraine, Crimea, you know "traditional Rus' lands", Estonia ain't that.
Sergey.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

The war is there already. Three Estonians died.
Even the non military Icelanders have their special forces there.
Hundreds of Estonians are serving on the front. And other Balts too.
There is no peace and no war. I guess reality is faster than our thinking nowadays.

space_maze ütles ...

You guys as a bunch are just so irresponsible every single one of you.

Er .. yeah. *No-one* here is advocating wars. All people here are advocating is being prepared for all eventualities - which is an excellent way to PREVENT wars.

The most militaristic armed-to-the-teeth nation in Europe, in relation to its population size, is Switzerland. Every able-bodied man in Switzerland between the age of 20 and 34 in Switzerland can be called into duty at any point, and keeps a soldier's equipment at home. They've got tanks, planes, guns, everything, and can mobilize it all at an incredible speed. One would have to be insane to attempt to invade Switzerland.

As a result, no-one has ever tried.

So is Switzerland an imperialist nation only out for trouble?

What has interested me for some time actually, but am too lazy to research something totally useless for me myself, is how the nations who have surrendered in history have on average always fared better in the end than those who chose to fight.

WWII. Finland. Estonia.

Lingüista ütles ...

Why would "differences in power coupled by differences in wealth" act as seeds for conflict, I do not quite see... :-O
Add competition (which doesn't exist between US and Estonia), and think colonial wars. Think Spain vs. Portugal. Think spice wars. Think oil wars (including the invasion of Iraq). I'm not a Marxist, but wanting to ignore the paramount importance of economy in the history of war is done at the analyst's own peril. War is -- among other things -- business as usual.

Having said that, it's obvious that Russia is not really thinking economy in her approach to bullying neighbors, but really "national pride" (economy will, at most, be what the government wants the people to forget about while thinking about "foreign threats").

Indeed, in the given situation, if economy was foremost, Russia should never want to give up Estonia's (or more importantly, Latvia's and Lithuania's) ports. The fact that it does suggests that psychological factors are playing a more important role -- though ultimately even Russia will be sensitive to economical factors.

t is never the nations, those who in reality are different in wealth, who initiate conflicts. It is the heads of nations, who are either on par or then possibly the (feared) initiators are wealthier.
Ah, the Big Man theory. Ask yourself: isn't it frequent that wealthy people think they deserve to be even wealthier? And that this is enough reason to start conflicts? Coupled with other factors -- religious beliefs, national 'pride', etc. -- it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see why leaders would do things such as wars instead of basking in the wealth they acquired, lawfully or unlawfully, as heads of state. (Though actual modern wars may be more systemic -- WWI being a good example).

no, it is not the measures for war that make peace possible[...]but - as it was also said here - that no one essentially likes war, makes peace possible.
Not in recorded history, no. Probably most of the Yugoslavians didn't want war; still Yugoslavia exploded. Hell, even Hitler would probably have liked it better if people simply gave him what he wanted; I'll bet he really thought he was 'forced' to war by those stupid Poles and Russians.

The fact that most -- but far from all -- people are too lazy to enjoy or want war doesn't cure them from the kinds of angry feelings that those few -- but also not so few -- can exploit to incite them against whoever the 'enemy' happens to be. Or else, war would simply never have happened in history, don't you think? :-)... Indeed, most Germans would probably have stayed home and enjoyed their peaceful lives, but the Nazis managed to convince them to go to war--in fact, they were so convinced that German soldiers kept fighting and fighting even at the end, when they were dying like flies, often with the greatest dose of self-sacrifice and courage (the opposite of laziness...)... and all for what? What was the beautiful ideal they were fighting for? The Great Idea? Nazism--the closest thing to an intellectual vacuum ever to be exalted as an "ideology"... Indeed, despite laziness, it's not hard to convince people to go to war.

Laziness won't save us. Unfortunately, we have to be ready -- even for the possibility of war.

he point is not that the possibility of a military conflict with whomever should be overlooked, but that you do not avoid military measures by engaging military measures.
No--because the best war that any angry leader wants to fight is the one s/he knows s/he will win, i.e. the one against weak neighbors. If your neighbor is strong and proud, if you have something your neighbors wants (the economic factor), and if you are weak and appeasing, your neighbor will simply take from you what s/he wants -- i.e. war.

Just look at history. You won't find many long-lasting examples of weak peoples living next to strong ones in peace and harmony -- they soon either fight, or establish a hierachy (vassal-and-lord, etc.).

Lingüista ütles ...

The best way of making someone or something stronger is to fight with it or to prepare for the fight with it.
But if s/he will make himself stronger anyway, regardless of what you do to appease him/her--and make no mistake, there were and there are many such examples (past: Germany, present: North Korea, perhaps Russia)... if your neighbor will make him/herself stronger and stronger no matter what you do, you'd be stupid not to do something about your own strength.

try shatter your box of conventional thinking sometimes, it's good for you!
Apply the same rule to yourself--what you think is an "unconventional" box is actually one of the oldest, most frequently used one, ever since the Jews put themselves in the hands of the Egyptians...

So you claim: the nations who have surrendered in history have on average always fared better in the end than those who chose to fight. Look at the French, the Danes in Europe, for example.
Well, look at the Redskin Indians who surrendered to the US Army. Look at the European Jews who, barring hopeless Warsaw Ghetto uprisings, surrendered quite meekly to the Germans. Just like the Danes! See the difference? Not the surrendering, but the fact that the Danes were Aryan, and the Jews were not. The same is true for occupied France: not Aryans, and also winners in the previous war. Surrendering would do them no good.

Indeed, Peru welcomed Pizarro, and Mexico thought Cortés was a god. Did it help? No...

Inovatsioon, there is no one single answer. Some people who surrendered survived; others didn't. The Estonians allowed occupation and survived; the Meryas and Meshcheras also allowed occupation, and did not survive. The Veps, Votes and Izhorians, who also allowed occupation, are about to disappear.

I know you like the idea that this is all "male administration" (though Ekaterina Velikaya would beg to disagree :-) -- but frankly speaking, since it was a man's world till recently, also the cases of surrender that you mention were the result of "male thinking". Because in the end it's just the cost-benefit analysis in the head the leaders, not their "male" (whatever that means) instincts.


Don't think unconventional, inovatsioon. Think efficiency. The question is: what will work? You make a very poor case for your viewpoint.

Lingüista ütles ...

the point is not that the possibility of a military conflict with whomever should be overlooked, but that you do not avoid military measures by engaging military measures.
I see now you're not denying the need to overlook the possibility of military conflict -- if I read you correctly now, you also think that this possibility should not be forgotten; it's simply that other things should be done too. With that I wholeheartedly agree.

But I am puzzled by the final claim. Do you really think that, if a neighbor indulges in strengthening his/her military power and plays the accusation game against you, you will really be safer by not strengthening yourself? Remember: strengthening yourself (para bellum) is not the same as "engaging military measures").

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Okay, again Estonians are in combat already together with Danes and British forces.

Deutsche Welle:

"Most people don't understand that we have a responsibility before NATO," said Lieutenant Andre Austa, 28. "If we want someone to help us we must help them."

For members of the new company, the tour in Afghanistan offers valuable hands-on experience, a substantial combat pay increase and a personal challenge to test their metal in the toughest conditions.

"It was my dream to come here, I wanted to see what it's like, not as it's shown on TV but to see the real war," said Ivan Tsygankov, 29, as he sat in the shade of an armored car parked on the firing range. "But let's see after our first contact [with the enemy] if this is a place I want to be."

Lingüista ütles ...

It's interesting to think there are Russian Estonians in the Estonian force in Afghanistan ('Ivan Tsygankov'). I wonder if they feel allegiance dilemmas?

Lingüista ütles ...

A.R.G., I basically agree with you. But frankly, if your government were making plans... they wouldn't tell you, now would they? :-)

peedu ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
peedu ütles ...

Even the non military Icelanders have their special forces there.

Check the video in the end.

(I know it's about Iraq, but fun none the less.)

Giustino ütles ...

Seriously, how can anyone think that Sweden and Finland could protect Estonia from possible Russian invasion?

There is a myth that it's been easy to invade Estonia through the centuries. I would say that Estonia has been invaded, but it's never been easy, particularly from the east.

The Livonian Wars dragged on for decades and the Russians lost. During the Great Northern War, the Swedes easily defeated the Russians at Narva in 1700. Peter actually never wanted Estonia, either. He wanted Ingria. He took Estonia as the spoils from Sweden which completely overextended itself (Poltava, etc.).

World War I? The Russians, or the Bolsheviks to be precise, were kept out. World War II? There was no invasion in 1939. The Soviets were allowed entry in the weeks after they devoured Poland. They guaranteed that they would not meddle in Estonian domestic political affairs. Once Hitler took Norway, Denmark, and France, of course the Soviets had to show that they could do what they wanted too. But in 1944? The battle of Narva lasted from February to August. They held Sinimäe for another month. It was never easy. Thousands upon thousand of men died -- go to northeastern Estonia, see all the graves yourself. Ad most importantly, it was rarely over Estonia -- these were just parts of larger pan-European campaigns.
Any real security crisis in Estonia would be part of a larger breakdown in European security involving big "powers" -- Poland, Germany, France. Which is what I think a lot of you said already ;)

nipi ütles ...

Negative scenario could be similar to Georgia - to protect the pipe and fellow-russians (russian citizen) abroad...
And what we can? Firstly, if no gas-pipe, Baltics are more secure. Concerning russian citizen - they are free to go back, but they dont want to - Putin even offered a little money, but obviously too little.
Smartass is telling 'integrate' - but we fear that through integration we reach the situation where we have no rights to demand as example, services within Estonia, in estonian language...

A.R.G ütles ...

Giustino wrote:
"There is a myth that it's been easy to invade Estonia through the centuries..."
Its not 1700 anymore, military changed to such degree... Estonia doesn't have a chance (without USA forces) against Russia.
Why do you think Russia won so easily against Georgia, eventhough Georgia spends near a billion dollars a year on its own (NATO trained) 50 000 army?
Maybe Estonians are braver? :)
Hey delusion is not the worse thing in world.
Russo-Georgian war surely woke up East-European countries, look now how paranoid they are, its actually kind of funny.

Giustino ütles ...

I am not arguing that it is 1700. I am just saying that, historically, invading countries have suffered high casualty rates trying to takeover this country, and that the myth of it being incredibly easy is just that, a myth. It's not true. It may be true today, but historically it's not. And what is the American defense plan other than the nuclear option?

One could just as easily argue that it's easy to invade Russia and surround St. Petersburg. And what would Russia's defense be other than the nuclear option? Isn't that the threat to which Russia alludes when it cries over NATO expansion?

These are all fun games to play on the Internet. But I am a bit more interested in building institutions that contemplating their ruin. Which is why the post was about a) the ambiguous promises of defense already given to northern European countries by NATO; b) the unclear relationship between the Nordic countries and Estonia; c) the existence of Nordic security cooperation with Estonia via the EU; and d) the need to better examine these relationships, rather than placing all ones eggs in the transatlantic basket.

Martin-Éric ütles ...

Looking back at WW2, we notice the following:

Sweden discretely gifting pieces of weaponry to Finland and welcoming war orphans, but carefully avoiding direct involvement.

Norway sending two regiments to defend the Eastern Finnish border.

Germany sending a number of regiments and weapons to Finland, only to see themselves chased by the Finns when the Soviets asked them to do their dirty work for them, forcing the Finns to turn against their allies (which, comes to think of it, pretty much sums up numerous events in Soviet history: turn against you allies and your own people and go at great lenght to exterminate them).

Finland training Estonian paratroopers.

...I'm not sure whether Estonia and Latvia collaborated during WW2 but, a few years earlier, Estonians went to help the Latvians get rid of the Russians and Germans, right after they themselves managed to do the same. The end result was of course the border dispute that resulted in Walk being split in two towns, Valga and Valka, with the Estonians feeling that 1) the whole Livonia belongs to them and 2) heck, we liberated this place, so we should get first dibs.

Lingüista ütles ...

Giustino, I understand your point, which is that invasions of Estonia have historically been more difficult than you'd imagine, given the size of the country and the apparent lack of easy-to-defend areas. The Estonian people really fought in their patriotic wars.

However, A.G.R. does indeed have a valid point. Modern warfare is fast -- note how long people were bogged down in Belgium in WWI, but how quickly it was conquered in WWII. The developments in Georgia also suggest the same: war is now dynamic and fast, so if you don't have sufficient men to stop your enemy, they'll roll over your country.

Conversely, if Russia were to be suprised by an invasion by a massive army, territory would also be conquered quickly -- much more quickly than by Hitler (there would be no big siege to St. Petersburg; the city would fall almost immediately). There would be no need to fear winter -- the war would be both faster and better equipped. It all would depend on (a) whether or not the Russians could summon up massive contingents to face the invading forces sufficiently quickly, and (b) on the use of tactical nukes.

It's not that Estonia wouldn't be harder to invade than is commonly thought; it's that warfare is now different. All-out war is quick. The only thing that would be slow is Iraq-style occupation and counter-insurgency.

But I am a bit more interested in building institutions that contemplating their ruin. Which is why the post was about a) the ambiguous promises of defense already given to northern European countries by NATO; b) the unclear relationship between the Nordic countries and Estonia; c) the existence of Nordic security cooperation with Estonia via the EU; and d) the need to better examine these relationships, rather than placing all ones eggs in the transatlantic basket.
In that, I wholeheartedly agree with you. But, as you and others said, any scenario in which Estonia would be invaded would probably be part of a larger scale operation; so the specific regional (Nordic) networks would probably not matter.

In the end, it's all NATO, which means it's all the US. Just as, for the CIS, it's all Russia--there's nobody else.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Hopefully the discussion won't descend on the level "my daddy can invade you daddy". Russia's economy is the size of Canada's if I remember correctly and very dependent on energy export. It admittedly can destroy the planet, and good for them, but it is not going to invade any EU or Nato member state in the present circumstances. Maybe there will be one day an earthquake in the international relationships but at the moment there is no sign of it. I don't think it's very fruitful to obsess about something that is at the moment unimaginable.

Lingüista ütles ...

Stockholm slender, you're probably right: I don't think Putin would simply invade, no matter how hurt Russia's self-esteem might be over any of a bunch of issues (history "falsifications", "disrespect" inside its own "sphere of influence," the fate of the "poor" Russians "trapped" in the Baltic States or in Ukraine, Saakashvili the "monster," etc.). I agree we'll probably know months ahead of schedule if the situation deteriorates to the point in which military conflict becomes a real possibility.

Still... one of the (most important?) reasons why the present circumstances make war so improbable, as you put it, is the existence of NATO. Giustino argues that the Nordic countries could also play a (n independent?) role, but they seem to be too small to be a true deterrent.

Maybe the point is: whether or not there'll be an "earthquake" in international relations will depend on what happens with NATO. Or on what happens with Russia for that matter (an internal revolution might change things for better... or for worse).

I'm not belittling economic factors. Russia indeed is economically the size of California, and is extremely dependent on oil and arms exports. It still has a long way to go to become a 'world power' in the economic scene; it seems even my native Brazil is beating Russia to it. Now, economic woes and disappointment may be part of the reason that might lead Russia as far as this "earthquake in international relations" that you talk about. It pays to keep watching.

DD ütles ...

Still NATO should invest in its contingency planning - failure to do demonstrates a lack of will on the part of NATO to observe its treaty obligations. The British and the French had little or contingency planning for their Polish guarantees in WWII (nor did the British did have a plan for supporting France which certainly emboldened Germany. Given the relatively poor showing of the Russian military in Georgia, some credible planning would certainly help deter an opportunistic Russia.

A.R.G ütles ...

Giustino wrote;
"And what is the American defense plan other than the nuclear option?"

USA could assemble 500 000+ (with help of some NATO states) military force within few months in Northern Europe, Baltics. Thus quite enough to fight the Russians and kick us out of Baltic States by conventional means. Nukes are off the table because this war is NOT about survival of either Russia or USA. This war would be about more of geo-political kind.

A.R.G ütles ...

DD wrote;
"Given the relatively poor showing of the Russian military in Georgia, some credible planning would certainly help deter an opportunistic Russia."

Well Russia didn't use its best army.
Many military experts predicted that war with Georgia would be much tougher than it was and would last for months in Kavkaz mountains.
We now know
that NATO trained troops can run like crazy :)

A.R.G ütles ...

Linguista wrote;
"...It still has a long way to go to become a 'world power' in the economic scene; it seems even my native Brazil is beating Russia to it."

Are you sure about that? Russia is well ahead of Brazil when it comes GDP. So what exactly Brazil is known for in world now? Of course besides some of those parades in Rio.
Brazil is poorer South American version of Russia but with alot more poverty.

A.R.G ütles ...

GDP (PPP)
Russia 2,260,907 (6th)
Brazil 1,981,207 (9th)

GDP (PPP) per capita;
Russia 15,922 (52th)
Brazil 10,326 (77th)

(Brazil also trails Russia in 'nominal GDP')

Russian population is 141 900 mil.
Brazil population is 190 000 mil.

Both economies are expected to grow at 3-4% next year.

Giustino ütles ...

So what exactly Brazil is known for in world now? Of course besides some of those parades in Rio.

I find Lula a much more sympathetic leader than Medvedev or Putin. Lula came up through the unions. Putin came up through the KGB. Medvedev came up because Putin decided it would be so.

Listening to the Russian elite is depressing. The worst part is their odd obsessive hatred of Estonia. Estonia, a little country of 1.34 million people the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. Give me a break! Go hate someone your own size! In fact, Brazil would be a perfect candidate for them. The Russian elite can tell Brazil what monuments it can and cannot have, and the Brazilians can tell the Russian elite what to put in their history books.

Estonia can meantime bicker with Qatar or Trinidad and Tobago.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Of course there should at all times be a beady Western eye focused on Russia - and I'm sure there is. But at the moment there just isn't anything very acute in the works. Sure, eventually things might happen, even bad things, who knows - but it's bit hard to prepare for something that at the moment is hardly imaginable (namely armed conflict between the West and Russia). Yes, the Kremlin has the record of not being the sharpest knife in the drawer (the current crew of kleptocrats is certainly not very encouraging) but I think that even in their stone age geopolitical thought some basics are grasped. Georgia, yes, within limits, Chechenya, yes, can be brutally and primitively raped - but a Nato and EU members are definite no go areas. That's the way it is and there has not been the slightest signs of this changing in the foreseeable future.

Lingüista ütles ...

A.G.R., have a look at the growth rates for Brazil and Russia -- especially the latest ones, already during the crisis. Add the recent discovery of oil along the Atlantic seabord (the Tupí fields), potentially as big as Venezuela's... Consider also that Brazil's economy is much more diversified today than Russia's (have a look at the composition of Brazil's exports, and compare them to Russia's). Also look at demography: Brazil's population is increasing (faster than the US), while the Russian population is decreasing. In another 30-40 years there'll be more Brazilians than Russians in the world.

Of course, Russia's economy is (still) bigger than Brazil's. Which is why I said "is beating", not "beat" in my last post.

In terms of foreign policy, Brazil is also doing a lot better -- our relations with all of our neighbors are very good (the Mercosul/Mercosur is growing), including even Venezuela, despite that crazy Chávez guy. In South America, we're also a 'local power', and some South Americans don't like us (ask the Argentinians!...), but our relations with them are great in terms of cooperation. In other words, Brazil has cultivated -- and won -- a much better international image than Russia, who still thinks in Cold War terms.

So, Brazil seems to be beating Russia to great power status. Whether Brazil will beat Russia or not remains to be seen. Maybe you guys will wise up a bit and realize that you should be doing what China is doing... not fighting your neighbors, but getting richer than them and diversifying your economy, so that you'll become attractive to them. If you'd only do that, and stop talking about 'falsification of history', gee! all your neighbors would end up clapping their hands. After all, everybody wants to be friends with the rich neighbors...
(That's another thing Brazil has been learning by the way).

I'm not sure I agree with Giustino on Lula -- I am in some respects very critical of him (the way he simply escaped the troubles his Partido dos Trabalhadores -- Workers' Party -- got into a few years ago, as if it had nothing to do with him, did not at all please me; I'm afraid he may be developing a case of exaggerated self-love -- not as much as Chávez, but still... He's been talking about himself in the third person lately, which I don't consider a good sign. Also his support for the Iranian elections didn't really please me.)

Lingüista ütles ...

Giustino, I agree that the Russian élite sounds quite depressing in its readiness to accuse neighbors of all kinds of real and imaginary crimes, and in its refusal to take seriously anyone else's viewpoint except her own.

Just today, I was listening to an old (February) episode of that ETV Russian-language talk show, Суд присяжных (the theme was: "Can Russia and Estonia be partners?"; in case anyone is interested, the episode is here). Everything went quite all right, various opinions were presented and argued for in friendly terms. Then, near the end (around 53:00), a certain Alla Delovaya (representative of an organization called "Молодежная волна" = "Youth's Wave") got the microphone and started angrily questioning everything, including the very idea of a partnership between Russia and Estonia: "Russia doesn't need Estonia at all, it's pure stupidity to talk about partnership, and the Estonians are terribly offensive, look here there's a poet who says I, being Russian, am "sullying" the "pure blood" of the Estonians, etc." (she later on, in a separate little interview after the show, added the usual stuff about how Estonia entered the USSR willingly, etc.).

You see such people, and you have to sigh. I feel like asking: since Estonia is so unimportant to Russia, why can't the Russian media simply ignore it? Why do they have to talk about every little thing in Estonia that they don't like -- going as far as misusing photos, misquoting people, and making absurdly wrong claims? Hey, the US doesn't do that to Chávez's Venezuela, arguably a more formidable foe...

One ends up really wanting to believe the theory about the Russian inferiority complex: even with regard to small, insignificant Estonia, they feel like they have something to prove, and that, if little Estonia with her little media doesn't agree with them, that's Something Very Bad That We Cannot Tolerate. Ah life!...

Lingüista ütles ...

A.R.G., little correction: there already are more Brazilians than Russians (191,000,000 Brazilians estimated for 2009, compared with 140,000,000 Russians). I was looking at the wrong numbers -- sorry.

A.R.G ütles ...

Giustino wrote;
"Listening to the Russian elite is depressing. The worst part is their odd obsessive hatred of Estonia."

Well it takes two to tango. I'm sure Estonian 'elite' hates Russia as much. Is just that Estonian media is so tiny, thus Russian voices are much louder.
Size doesn't matter when hating some countries so much :)
At times USA despised in today's Russia like Estonia could never be.
Estonia in Russia seen as flea that should be crushed or at least smacked (you know verbally) around.
While USA seen as a serious opponent or even foe.
You see hating Estonia is like sport for Rus. nationalists, Latvia was before that. It would be amusing if it wasn't so sad.

A.R.G ütles ...

Liguista wrote;
"In terms of foreign policy, Brazil is also doing a lot better -- our relations with all of our neighbors are very good..."

Were Brazil's neighborhood countries part of Brazil 20 years ago?! I guess NOT, so its a silly comparison.
Its only natural that Russia is hated by its former 'colonies'. While Russia suffers from 'colonist' withdrawls, in 50-150 years things will improve.

At one point Brazil was very much hated by neighbors, right? How much territory was ceded to Brazil by neighbors in 1800s-1907? Nearly all neighbors were forced to give up large chunks of territory to Brazil. Paraguay was nearly wiped out by Brazil and Argentina.
Well Actually Brazil wanted to completely wipe out Paraguay off the map and divide Paraguay territory between Brazil and Argentina, Buenos Aires didn't want that. So I guess they don't teach that in Brazilian schools.
So obviously Brazil is not a shiny example to Russia.

Lingüista ütles ...

Well it takes two to tango. I'm sure Estonian 'elite' hates Russia as much.
Actually, no -- hate, unlike love, is the kind of emotion that one person can feel without any response from the other person. Just look at Hitler's hatred for Jews, or Stalin's for the кулаки. Frankly, when I see what the Estonian press writes about Russia and what the Russian press writes about Estonia, I have to disagree with you: Russia hates Estonia a lot more than Estonia hates Russia.

It's not only a question of being bigger and having more media. The US press is much bigger than Russia's, and yet they don't do to to, say, Venezuela what Russia does to Estonia -- despite the fact that Venezuela's Chávez does much worse than Estonia ever did. As you said yourself, size doesn't matter when hating some countries so much. Indeed. No real reason is necessary, just the feeling of entitlement that comes with losing one's ex-colonies. (Plus, of course, the media are interested in keeping the hatred going, so that they can sell papers!... people 'love' to read about the 'absurd' things the enemies are doing).

Estonia in Russia seen as flea that should be crushed or at least smacked (you know verbally) around.
Which is the point -- Estonia does nothing to deserve that (other than having achieved independence). Again it's (as you said) just post-colonial feelings. As you put it: Russia suffers from 'colonist' withdrawls, in 50-150 years things should improve. I tend to think so, too -- I hope you're right. England, France, the Netherlands (yes, the peaceful Netherlands -- did you know they once had a UN resolution against them because of what they did in Indonesia?) -- they all learned to live after losing their colonies. Russia will, too.

Lingüista ütles ...

Were Brazil's neighborhood countries part of Brazil 20 years ago?! I guess NOT, so its a silly comparison.
Actually no, it's not a silly comparison. As you yourself point out, not only was Brazil involved in a stupid, English-driven war against Paraguay that pretty much wiped out Solano Lopez's regime, it also got, by all kinds of means, most of its neighbor's territory. Brazil was at first less than 1/5 of what it is today (look up "Treaty of Tordesillas" to see the first border between Portuguese and Spanish possessions in South America). So actually most of Brazil is territory that used not to be Brazil -- and some nationalists in South America do resent that. The reasons why they aren't as angry at us as nearly all post-Soviet countries are at Russia are: (a) there were no big wars, except for the Paraguayan war -- and we made sure not to be the iniators of that one, and to have other neighbors (Argentina and Uruguay) in with us; (b) most of the land was acquired by diplomatic means (like e.g. Alaska from Russia -- and you don't see resentment in Russia about Alaska either, not like about the Baltic states); and (c) Brazil is quite strong on economic integration, and gives other countries good reasons to join -- Mercosur/Mercosul is a local success: despite trading disputes, nobody wants to leave it; and (d) unlike Russia, Brazil does not behave arrogantly towards smaller and poorer neighbors (even Venezuela's Chávez, our local Lukashenka, finds Brazil friendly) -- no, the local "Russians" (i.e. traditionally arrogant people who, the stereotypes say, think everybody should bow to them because they're oh so important) are the Argentinians, and you should see how many jokes about them there are all over South America.

Brazil wanted to completely wipe out Paraguay off the map and divide Paraguay territory between Brazil and Argentina, Buenos Aires didn't want that.
Actually, Buenos Aires was a lot more anti-Paraguayan than Brazil ever was (Paraguay had been part of the Plata colony -- Argentina -- at some point during early colonial times). The reason why they didn't agree was simply to keep Brazil from getting these lands -- Paraguayan independence was better than going to war with Brazil over that (after the struggle for Uruguay, their "Banda Oriental", they knew it wouldn't be a good idea).

So obviously Brazil is not a shiny example to Russia.
Quite the opposite. Brazil went from being hated (as you said yourself) to being a desirable partner that everybody wants to talk to and nobody ignores in South America. Exactly what Russia should do: stop talking about the past, stop bitching around stupid non-issues like "Baltic fascism," and start thinking pragmatically about how to treat its neighbors. If Russia would instead concentrate on becoming so economically attractive that its neighbors would want to come nearer to (like Brazil did), most of the so-called "post-colonial blues" that it feels would disappear.

It's very easy to say "I don't need my neighbors". Brazil didn't either, nor did the US. It's more interesting to change one's neighboorhood into a source of prestige and even lucrative business that both sides like and leads to closer and closer ties between them. That is much more impressive and satisfying. I'm hoping that Russia will wake to that. (Hell, the CIS and CSTO are attempts at doing that -- but since Russia puts everything in Russia-centric terms, it doesn't even try to attract its neighbors -- and then it is surprised by how uninterested they are...)

Inner monologue ütles ...

So is it "kaitsemisest" or "kaitsmisest"?

Jim Hass ütles ...

Logistically, things get very bogged down in Poland. If I could recommend a use for EU funds, it would be the upgrading of the basic transportation corridors that could unite the great Northern European plane together. Driving from Berlin, the A2 quickly becomes worse than most county highways in Indiana. Driving through Slovenia was easier for my father back in '69. Sure, a lot of logistical support can come by air if the capacity is there, but in a multifocal security crisis, there may not be all that much available. Why does it take almost 4 hours to drive from Lodz to Warsaw? Because the highways are still inadequate for the traffic.
Because of the Kalliningrad partition and Byelorussian solidarity with the the RF, all security forces moving on land would be forced into a small area of the Lithuania, right?
I guess a trucker would argue for better highways, but still, this seems the safest dual use security project out there to me.

Ernst ütles ...

Off-topic, but maybe not. The best defense is a good offense and I think we should be planning something against Kaliningrad. Though probably somewhere in the back rooms of NATO, greyheads are sitting at a table doing just that.

Kaliningrad is the elephant at the table. It doesn't make any sense to me -- some sort of spoils of war? The very fact that it makes no sense to me should make it plain enough that the only course of action is military.

How can Kaliningrad be Russia? It isn't Russia. Let's be very honest with ourselves. It's the occupied state of East Prussia.

Anyway, Russia would disown it in a heartbeat -- besides Kant's tomb and a few amber-polluted beaches (the stuff has bugs in it!) it consists of grey blocks of flats the residents of which probably speak Russian with an accent, so long have they been disconnected from the motherland. We're not talking about South Ossetia here, people. Kaliningrad is a dive. It is not for nothing that it has been likened to the Gaza of the Baltics (needs citation).

Jim Hass ütles ...

Ernst a better offense might be to undermine the ruling clique of dinosaurs that rule Bielorussia and Russia. To keep reminding the public what a real free press is and that human rights include the rights of journalists not to be murdered or intimidated.That a real rule of law includes an independent judiciary, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure and theft or unreasonable competition from the state.Unless or until these regimes moderate, there is no real peace, just an absence of war.

Lingüista ütles ...

On Kaliningrad, I hear there are groups there interested in "independence" (they see themselves as the 'fourth Baltic country'). Doesn't the mayor of Kaliningrad want it to go back to its original name, Königsberg?

Still, Kaliningrad is very symbolic to Russia: part of the success story of the Great Patriotic War. It was a very important military center/base in Soviet times, and it still has importance in this area. I don't think Kaliningrad is going anywhere any time soon.

Besides, as far as the defense of Estonia goes, Kaliningrad is really off-topic -- I don't see how it fits.

A.R.G ütles ...

Linguista wrote;
"On Kaliningrad, I hear there are groups there interested in "independence" (they see themselves as the 'fourth Baltic country')"

It was an interested subject 10-11 years ago, when it look like Russia could fall apart because of economic crisis. I was trying to find those Kaliningrad "groups" that wanted independence for this oblast' and I couldn't find them. The whole idea is just a wishful thinking of some not so friendly neighbors.
Kaliningrad I think 90% are ethnic Russians, others are Ukrainians, Belarusians and there is small minority of Lithuanians and Russian-Germans.
So I don't know who would demand independence for Kaliningrad.

A.R.G ütles ...

Liguista wrote:
"The US press is much bigger than Russia's, and yet they don't do to to, say, Venezuela what Russia does to Estonia --"
Thats because nobody cares about Venezuela in USA. Chavez is probably seens as some sort of clown.

"despite the fact that Venezuela's Chavez does much worse than Estonia ever did."

Your comparison is rather strange. Is state of Venezuela hates USA the way Russia hates Estonia? I don't think so! Probably there is only one guy in Venezuela who truly hates USA. Seems like whole 'hate USA' thing is based on Chavez.
Plus there is no colonial links between two states and 1/3 of Venezuelans are not Americans.
If Chavez retires (or removed by force) from being president, just watch, Venezuela will be Washington ally in region.
You'll not going to see the same with Russia. Only time will heal wounds on both sides.

Lingüista ütles ...

A.R.G.: (Kaliningrad independence) was an interested subject 10-11 years ago, when it look like Russia could fall apart because of economic crisis. I was trying to find those Kaliningrad "groups" that wanted independence for this oblast' and I couldn't find them. The whole idea is just a wishful thinking of some not so friendly neighbors.
Indeed, there seems to be little interest now (though the mayor of Kaliningrad recently wanted to change its name back to Königsberg, didn't he?). I did find one group still fighting for Kaliningrad's autonomy or independence (Sergei Pasko's Kaliningrad Public Movement-Respublika), but indeed it looks rather weak.

This guy's movement is also formed by Russians. They're just Russians who don't want to be in Russia -- or at least not only in Russia, since they also want to be "EU subjects". The equation "Russian" = "wants to be in Russia" is usually valid, but not always.

Thats because nobody cares about Venezuela in USA. Chavez is probably seens as some sort of clown.
Indeed, and that's my point. Rather than thinking that Estonia and their leaders are "some kind of clown", the Russian media keeps hammering on and on that they're "bad, really nasty fascists". Russia being so big, and Estonia so small, Russia shouldn't care at all what Estonia says -- much less than America cares about what Chávez says.

Does state of Venezuela hates USA the way Russia hates Estonia? I don't think so!
But A.R.G., that's my point! Russia does hate Estonia, but there is no reason for that other than so-called "Estonian fascism" -- and that's false. In the case of Venezuela, and the US, there are the same reasons for the US to hate Venezuela (just listen to the things Chávez says every week in his TV program "Meet the President" -- I've been several times to Venezuela, I've heard him myself). Yet the US does not hate Venezuela; and Russia does hate Estonia.

So again: Russia hates Estonia a lot more than Estonia hates Russia, and there's no reason for that -- again, Venezuela's president (and press) keeps saying horrible things about America, and the US doesn't hate Venezuela not even nearly as much as Russia hates Estonia.

As you said, it's just post-colonial anger. To quote you: "Only time will heal the wounds on both sides." I entirely, totally agree. I just think that, for Russia, the wounds are all psychological: there are no real wounds, since Estonia didn't do anything real against Russia (other than declaring independence and claiming its right to its own history).

Slowly (100 years, you said?) the Russians will come to their senses and go worry about their real problems. Estonia just isn't one of them.

Lingüista ütles ...

A.R.G., I note that the blog I linked to in my last message -- "Independece for Kaliningrad! Freedom for Koenigsberg!" -- also has a Russian-language version with the same message. In both versions, there's a poll with the question "What is the future for Kaliningrad?". In both the English and the Russian version, "Independence" is the option that got the most answers (47% in the English-language version, 52% in the Russian-language version). But the absolute numbers are very small, so they're probably not really significant. Just a small group of enthusiasts with a blog.

plasma-jack ütles ...

If you need something to compare Estonian-Russian relations with, check out Hungarian-Slovak relations. Also shows why the EU still is such a great thing for Europe (no irony here).

Giustino ütles ...

Thanks, Jack. When I looked around Europe for a similar situation, I also thought Hungary-Slovakia to be the best example.

Lingüista ütles ...

Really, Giustino and Jack? Is it like Hungay-Romania?

notsu ütles ...

I'd rather say that Bratislava (aka Pozsony aka Pressburg) is to Hungarians what Kiev is to Russians. Much stronger feeling.

notsu ütles ...

(Also, Russia vs. Ukraine to Hungary vs. Slovakia analogy works better from the point of view of relative sizes and powers.)

Lingüista ütles ...

From what I could google, it looks as if the Slovaks are being too overly anti-Hungarian here (they have a much bigger Hungarian minority than the Hungarians have a Slovak minority) -- that Slovak National Party guy has made a number of obviously provocative anti-Hungarian remarks.

Inner monologue ütles ...

Historian in Russia is a person who can predict the past ... http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8166020.stm

space_maze ütles ...

Regarding Hungary and Slovakia - it's not just fired from the Slovakian side. Plenty of Hungarians have bumper stickers like this one on their car:

Link

And getting back such areas many Hungarians regard as "rightfully theirs" was the driving force between Hungarian Nazi collaboration in WWII.

It's not quite comparable, though, as (a) even those Hungarians feeling that Slovakia belongs to them would not consider doing anything about this, as it would marginalize Hungarian internationally (b) Hungarian-Slovakian historical ties are way deeper than Russian-Estonian ties - the Hungarian ethnic minority in Slovakia is about a dozen times older than the Russian minority in Estonia (c) a way larger potion Hungarians roll their eyes in disgust at those Hungarians that have these bumper stickers, and are way more vocal about how stupid they consider such people.

Giustino ütles ...

I actually don't think that your average Russian knows much about Estonia. Have you noticed these "least friendly nation" polls published by Levadia?

Obviously after the Bronze Soldier fiasco, Estonia was the least friendly. But now Georgia (62 percent) is, followed by the US, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia (30 percent).

I have a feeling the respondents just list the Baltic countries as they can remember them. There is no other reason why Latvia or Lithuania would place ahead.

Lingüista ütles ...

Giustino, I think you're right. I've also noticed how Western Europe went from being a cool place to a den of enemies ("in the '90s," says a Dutch journalist I was reading the other day, Russians found it cute that the Dutch had a queen and loved to ask about her; now, when I go to Moscow, they treat me coldly, as an agent of 'Western propaganda services'.")

The impression one has is that it isn't difficult to convince Russians to stop hating whoever their enemy no.1 was until then and start hating someone else. If the government started a campaign against Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, and just stopped saying anything about the Baltic states, I'll bet they'd go way down the list of "worst enemies" (they might even drop out of it altogether) while the "stan" countries would suddenly become the worst thing that ever happened to Russia's borders.

A.R.G ütles ...

Giustino wrote;
"I actually don't think that your average Russian knows much about Estonia. Have you noticed these "least friendly nation" polls published by Levadia?
"
With these polls you can make anyone look stupid.
Where is similar poll for Estonia? I'm sure Russia is like third hated nation among Estonians this year, after Monaco and Liechtenstein, right? Andorra didn't make it this year! Such tragedy.

There were poll conducted on first of april in Russia, 'regarding how things going between Russia and Atlantis', 15% - things could be better.
10% ok.
20% not going into right direction.
40% thought that it was a joke.

"I have a feeling the respondents just list the Baltic countries as they can remember them. There is no other reason why Latvia or Lithuania would place ahead."

Well Russians have wide span attention disorder. We always think Big! All Balts always demand something from Russia, you know apology and compensation for occupation.
When Lithuania demands 100 billion USD in compensation, so how do you think Russians will look at it? Demanding apology from Russia is rather silly, since we do not feel guily about it and baltic countries know about it. So why demand apology? Unless you want to make top 10 every year.

A.R.G ütles ...

Linguista wrote;
"The impression one has is that it isn't difficult to convince Russians to stop hating whoever their enemy no.1 was until then and start hating someone else"

Not exactly. I don't think we are naive as you think. Countries are hated for a reason.
Russians certainly can see that all ethnic Russians became citizens of 'stans' in 1992, in those republics.
While in Latvia and Estonia things didn't turn out that way for Russians!
Obviously there many other issues, such as Nato.

Giustino ütles ...

I'm sure Russia is like third hated nation among Estonians this year, after Monaco and Liechtenstein, right? Andorra didn't make it this year! Such tragedy.

Actually, I don't think Estonians dislike any other country besides Russia. I guess you can have bad relations with one neighbor, when all your relations with all other countries are great.

While in Latvia and Estonia things didn't turn out that way for Russians!

That's simple. First, the 'stans were completely new countries so only a conservative citizenship policy based on legal continuity could be made in the Baltics.

Second, the Lithuanians saw it in their national interest to enfranchise their equally big Polish minority, as they needed Polish support. The Estonians and Latvians did not see it in their national interest, even with all the hot air and veiled threats from Moscow.

Of course, it hasn't earned the praise of Russians. At the same time, they needed to understand that Estonia isn't part of their country. This is obvious now, but was less obvious back then.

Overall, it's mostly a distraction. In Estonia, you're talking about 100,000 people. In an international soup of Islamic Jihad and nuclear proliferation, the fact that 100K people can't vote in Estonian (or Russian) parliamentary elections yet isn't really that important from a policy perspective.

Obviously there many other issues, such as Nato.

Denmark and Norway have been NATO members since inception. Denmark doesn't border Russia, but it does control its Baltic gate to the Atlantic Ocean. Norway does border Russia and sits opposite its Northern Fleet and in the way of its Arctic ambitions. If Russia can live with that and not complain, I am sure it can handle a cyberdefense center in Tallinn and an small airbase in Lithuania.
Again, mostly symbolic.

Lingüista ütles ...

A.R.G., but you're neglecting the impact that a good anti-'stan countries campaign could have if the Kremlin decided the Russian press should do it.

Russians are indeed citizens in the 'stan countries, but think of the following:

(a) workers from 'stan countries are "causing problems" in Russia (see the latest arguments from the Movement Againt Illegal Immigrants in their website);
(b) Russian citizens are citizens but are not being heard -- if you look at their own websites, they complain all the time about anti-Russian discrimination;
(c) Russian citizens have even voted with their feet: a large number of them have left the 'stan countries to go back to the Motherland (unlike the Baltic states, where they mostly stayed). Look at how in Kazakhstan Russians have finally fallen below 50% of the population -- a fact that even president Nursultan Nazarbayev (who keeps insisting Kazakhstan is a 'multiethnic state') has boasted about.
(d) Even though Russian is a 'state/official language', policies favoring the local languages and against Russian are widespread and often mentioned in the press (the latest one coming from Tajikistan, but you can find similar initiatives, officially or not, in all of the 'stan country -- I'm sure the Russian press could find lots of 'human/linguistic rights violations' if they wanted to).
(e) 'Pressure from abroad' to make these countries 'enemies of Russia' is growing -- the incident about the American base in Kyrgyzstan is an example (which the Russian press could exploit to show how 'anti-Russian' the Kyrgyz are -- this base is much worse than anything NATO has in the Baltic states), but there are others (e.g. Azerbaijan's claim that it could sell oil via Nabucco, etc.).

Lingüista ütles ...

So, if the Russian press wanted... all those things could be misconstrued as 'threats to Russia', 'attempts by foreign powers to attack the Motherland', and 'evidence of anti-Russian attitudes among Turkic populations', etc. etc. etc. If, of course, the Kremlin wanted that. If the Russian media would start hammering that over and over again, I'm sure they could make Russians feel very angryu at 'those damn Turkic peoples' who 'should be happy' with the civilization that Russia brought to them but who instead are so 'uppity' and 'nationalistic' (their authoritarian governments are 'obviously' 'fascistic', etc.).

And the Russians -- not all of them, mind you: I'm sure there are intelligent people in Russia who think about what they read; but the population as a whole, the masses -- would play along. They would forget about the Baltic States (With sufficient media propaganda, they might start thinking like: 'Reparations to Baltic states? No problem, we don't pay them anyway, that's just a joke; but the 'stan countries are selling oil to Western countries through non-Russian routes, that's much worse! Oppressed Russian minorities? What oppressed Russian minorities? They're in the EU, with a higher living standard than Russia's Russians -- while those in the 'stans are really suffering, you know? NATO presence? Oh, OK, the Baltic states are in NATO, but NATO isn't really interested in protecting them; they've done nothing for that thus far... while the 'stan countries, look, they're leasing real bases to NATO, where real soldiers with lots of materiel are really present! How long till they start putting missiles there? That's way worse! We really have to kick them out of there now, before they become a real threat to the Motherland!')

Remember, the point is not whether any of the above is 'really true' or 'really an insightful analysis' of the situation. The point is what the Russian media could do with these things as propaganda if the Kremlin decided that they should. My guess: they'd forget the Baltic states (they wouldn't love them, mind you, but they'd forget, till it was again convenient to remind them of the 'bad Balts' who 'started the destruction of the USSR -- the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the XXth century!', etc.) and that the 'stan countries would become enemy nr. 1. State-controled media are a great propaganda weapon.

Inner monologue ütles ...

Geopolitical Intel Report

by George Friedman | July 27, 2009

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Georgia and Ukraine partly answered questions over how U.S.-Russian talks went during U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Russia in early July. That Biden’s visit took place at all reaffirms the U.S. commitment to the principle that Russia does not have the right to a sphere of influence in these countries or anywhere in the former Soviet Union.

The Americans’ willingness to confront the Russians on an issue of fundamental national interest to Russia therefore requires some explanation, as on the surface it seems a high-risk maneuver. Biden provided insights into the analytic framework of the Obama administration on Russia in a July 26 interview with The Wall Street Journal. In it, Biden said the United States “vastly” underestimates its hand. He added that “Russia has to make some very difficult, calculated decisions. They have a shrinking population base, they have a withering economy, they have a banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years, they’re in a situation where the world is changing before them and they’re clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable.”

U.S. Policy Continuity
The Russians have accused the United States of supporting pro-American forces in Ukraine, Georgia and other countries of the former Soviet Union under the cover of supporting democracy. They see the U.S. goal as surrounding the Soviet Union with pro-American states to put the future of the Russian Federation at risk. The summer 2008 Russian military action in Georgia was intended to deliver a message to the United States and the countries of the former Soviet Union that Russia was not prepared to tolerate such developments but was prepared to reverse them by force of arms if need be.

Following his July summit, Obama sent Biden to the two most sensitive countries in the former Soviet Union — Ukraine and Georgia — to let the Russians know that the United States was not backing off its strategy in spite of Russian military superiority in the immediate region. In the long run, the United States is much more powerful than the Russians, and Biden was correct when he explicitly noted Russia’s failing demographics as a principle factor in Moscow’s long-term decline. But to paraphrase a noted economist, we don’t live in the long run. Right now, the Russian correlation of forces along Russia’s frontiers clearly favors the Russians, and the major U.S. deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan would prevent the Americans from intervening should the Russians choose to challenge pro-American governments in the former Soviet Union directly.

Inner monologue ütles ...

...

Even so, Biden’s visit and interview show the Obama administration is maintaining the U.S. stance on Russia that has been in place since the Reagan years. Reagan saw the economy as Russia’s basic weakness. He felt that the greater the pressure on the Russian economy, the more forthcoming the Russians would be on geopolitical matters. The more concessions they made on geopolitical matters, the weaker their hold on Eastern Europe. And if Reagan’s demand that Russia “Tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev” was met, the Soviets would collapse. Ever since the Reagan administration, the idee fixe of not only the United States, but also NATO, China and Japan has been that the weakness of the Russian economy made it impossible for the Russians to play a significant regional role, let alone a global one. Therefore, regardless of Russian wishes, the West was free to forge whatever relations it wanted among Russian allies like Serbia and within the former Soviet Union. And certainly during the 1990s, Russia was paralyzed.

Biden, however, is saying that whatever the current temporary regional advantage the Russians might have, in the end, their economy is crippled and Russia is not a country to be taken seriously. He went on publicly to point out that this should not be pointed out publicly, as there is no value in embarrassing Russia. The Russians certainly now understand what it means to hit the reset button Obama had referred to: The reset is back to the 1980s and 1990s.

Reset to the 1980s and 90s
To calculate the Russian response, it is important to consider how someone like Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin views the events of the 1980s and 1990s. After all, Putin was a KGB officer under Yuri Andropov, the former head of the KGB and later Chairman of the Communist Party for a short time — and the architect of glasnost and perestroika.

It was the KGB that realized first that the Soviet Union was failing, which made sense because only the KGB had a comprehensive sense of the state of the Soviet Union. Andropov’s strategy was to shift from technology transfer through espionage — apparently Putin’s mission as a junior intelligence officer in Dresden in the former East Germany — to a more formal process of technology transfer. To induce the West to transfer technology and to invest in the Soviet Union, Moscow had to make substantial concessions in the area in which the West cared the most: geopolitics. To get what it needed, the Soviets had to dial back on the Cold War.

Glasnost, or openness, had as its price reducing the threat to the West. But the greater part of the puzzle was perestroika, or the restructuring of the Soviet economy. This was where the greatest risk came, since the entire social and political structure of the Soviet Union was built around a command economy. But that economy was no longer functioning, and without perestroika, all of the investment and technology transfer would be meaningless. The Soviet Union could not metabolize it.

Inner monologue ütles ...

...

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was a communist, as we seem to forget, and a follower of Andropov. He was not a liberalizer because he saw liberalization as a virtue; rather, he saw it as a means to an end. And that end was saving the Communist Party, and with it the Soviet state. Gorbachev also understood that the twin challenge of concessions to the West geopolitically and a top-down revolution in Russia economically — simultaneously—risked massive destabilization. This is what Reagan was counting on, and what Gorbachev was trying to prevent. Gorbachev lost Andropov’s gamble. The Soviet Union collapsed, and with it the Communist Party.

What followed was a decade of economic horror, at least as most Russians viewed it. From the West’s point of view, collapse looked like liberalization. From the Russian point of view, Russia went from a superpower that was poor to an even poorer geopolitical cripple. For the Russians, the experiment was a double failure. Not only did the Russian Empire retreat to the borders of the 18th century, but the economy became even more dysfunctional, except for a handful of oligarchs and some of their Western associates who stole whatever wasn’t nailed down.

The Russians, and particularly Putin, took away a different lesson than the West did. The West assumed that economic dysfunction caused the Soviet Union to fail. Putin and his colleagues took away the idea that it was the attempt to repair economic dysfunction through wholesale reforms that caused Russia to fail. From Putin’s point of view, economic well-being and national power do not necessarily work in tandem where Russia is concerned.

Inner monologue ütles ...

...

Russian Power, With or Without Prosperity
Russia has been an economic wreck for most of its history, both under the czars and under the Soviets. The geography of Russia has a range of weaknesses, as we have explored. Russia’s geography, daunting infrastructural challenges and demographic structure all conspire against it. But the strategic power of Russia was never synchronized to its economic well-being. Certainly, following World War II the Russian economy was shattered and never quite came back together. Yet Russian global power was still enormous. A look at the crushing poverty — but undeniable power — of Russia during broad swaths of time from 1600 until Andropov arrived on the scene certainly gives credence to Putin’s view.

The problems of the 1980s had as much to do with the weakening and corruption of the Communist Party under former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev as it had to do with intrinsic economic weakness. To put it differently, the Soviet Union was an economic wreck under Joseph Stalin as well. The Germans made a massive mistake in confusing Soviet economic weakness with military weakness. During the Cold War, the United States did not make that mistake. It understood that Soviet economic weakness did not track with Russian strategic power. Moscow might not be able to house its people, but its military power was not to be dismissed.

What made an economic cripple into a military giant was political power. Both the czar and the Communist Party maintained a ruthless degree of control over society. That meant Moscow could divert resources from consumption to the military and suppress resistance. In a state run by terror, dissatisfaction with the state of the economy does not translate into either policy shifts or military weakness — and certainly not in the short term. Huge percentages of gross domestic product can be devoted to military purposes, even if used inefficiently there. Repression and terror smooth over public opinion.

Inner monologue ütles ...

...

The czar used repression widely, and it was not until the army itself rebelled in World War I that the regime collapsed. Under Stalin, even at the worst moments of World War II, the army did not rebel. In both regimes, economic dysfunction was accepted as the inevitable price of strategic power. And dissent — even the hint of dissent — was dealt with by the only truly efficient state enterprise: the security apparatus, whether called the Okhraina, Cheka, NKVD, MGB or KGB.

From the point of view of Putin, who has called the Soviet collapse the greatest tragedy of our time, the problem was not economic dysfunction. Rather, it was the attempt to completely overhaul the Soviet Union’s foreign and domestic policies simultaneously that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. And that collapse did not lead to an economic renaissance.

Biden might not have meant to gloat, but he drove home the point that Putin believes. For Putin, the West, and particularly the United States, engineered the fall of the Soviet Union by policies crafted by the Reagan administration — and that same policy remains in place under the Obama administration.

It is not clear that Putin and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev disagree with Biden’s analysis — the Russian economy truly is “withering” — except in one sense. Given the policies Putin has pursued, the Russian prime minister must believe he has a way to cope with that. In the short run, Putin might well have such a coping mechanism, and this is the temporary window of opportunity Biden alluded to. But in the long run, the solution is not improving the economy — that would be difficult, if not outright impossible, for a country as large and lightly populated as Russia. Rather, the solution is accepting that Russia’s economic weakness is endemic and creating a regime that allows Russia to be a great power in spite of that.

Inner monologue ütles ...

...

Such a regime is the one that can create military power in the face of broad poverty, something we will call the “Chekist state.” This state uses its security apparatus, now known as the FSB, to control the public through repression, freeing the state to allocate resources to the military as needed. In other words, this is Putin coming full circle to his KGB roots, but without the teachings of an Andropov or Gorbachev to confuse the issue. This is not an ideological stance; it applies to the Romanovs and to the Bolsheviks. It is an operational principle embedded in Russian geopolitics and history.

Counting on Russian strategic power to track Russian economic power is risky. Certainly, it did in the 1980s and 1990s, but Putin has worked to decouple the two. On the surface, it might seem a futile gesture, but in Russian history, this decoupling is the norm. Obama seems to understand this to the extent that he has tried to play off Medvedev (who appears less traditional) from Putin (who appears to be the more traditional), but we do not think this is a viable strategy — this is not a matter of Russian political personalities but of Russian geopolitical necessity.

Biden seems to be saying that the Reagan strategy can play itself out permanently. Our view is that it plays itself out only so long as the Russian regime doesn’t reassert itself with the full power of the security apparatus and doesn’t decouple economic and military growth. Biden’s strategy works so long as this doesn’t happen. But in Russian history, this decoupling is the norm and the past 20 years is the exception.

A strategy that assumes the Russians will once again decouple economic and military power requires a different response than ongoing, subcritical pressure. It requires that the window of opportunity the United States has handed Russia by its wars in the Islamic world be closed, and that the pressure on Russia be dramatically increased before the Russians move toward full repression and rapid rearmament.

Ironically, in the very long run of the next couple of generations, it probably doesn’t matter whether the West heads off Russia at the pass because of another factor Biden mentioned: Russia’s shrinking demographics. Russian demography has been steadily worsening since World War I, particularly because birth rates have fallen. This slow-motion degradation turned into collapse during the 1990s. Russia’s birth rates are now well below starkly higher death rates; Russia already has more citizens in their 50s than in their teens. Russia can be a major power without a solid economy, but no one can be a major power without people. But even with demographics as poor as Russia’s, demographics do not change a country overnight. This is Russia’s moment, and the generation or so it will take demography to grind Russia down can be made very painful for the Americans.

Biden has stated the American strategy: squeeze the Russians and let nature take its course. We suspect the Russians will squeeze back hard before they move off the stage of history.

A.R.G ütles ...

Hmmm... All 'stans' are very much different and useful for Russia. For example Russia needs Turkmenistan for its large natural gas fuilds. Russia needs Kyrgyztan for military base(s) Russia plays important role in all 'stans'.
All 'stans' depend to a large degree on Russia as well. Millions of 'stans' workers making a living in Russia and sending tons of cash back home. Thus you have certain co-dependence and respect between 'stans' and Russia.
You don't have the same between Russia and Baltic States, thus it is much easier to focus on 3 tiny similar insignificant baltic states. If you telling me that Russians are treated worse in 'stans' than in Estonia and Latvia, I would say it is very much different between 'stans'. In Kyrgyztan, Russian is oficial language and plays imporant role in politics, business and everyday life but still, half of Russians fled this republic due to bad economic situation. On a other hand in Turkmenistan, things went terribly wrong for local (relatively small) slavic population. At times Russians couldn't even leave this republic and Russian education was seriously cut. Moscow didn't complain much publicly, for economical and geo-politics reasons. Sure from Baltic point of view, it looks like a double standard and you right! But thats what large countries do, USA is like a front runner in that.

Russian population in Tajikistan is 1%, Moscow doesn't really care about this hell hole.

In former USSR, Latvians and Estonians were always seen as very much sophisticated people. So I guess Russians in Estonia and Latvia were little shocked that they were reduced to second rate non-citizens in 1992. (for few years, I think Latvia actually had 'non-citizen' passports for local Russians)

I expected far more from Balts than 'stans'.

A.R.G ütles ...

Thanks Inner Monologue, interesting article by George Friedman. Except Russian demographics are better now than he thinks (or has old facts)
Russia actually has now higher birth rate than most European countries.
Russian birth rate is higher than white Americans.
Sure Russia has extremely high death rate among older men (due to drinking, smoking, etc) But in terms of geo-politics, to put it cruely, who needs old men! And spending tons of money on health care, pensions certainly needs alot of money.

People who thinks that Russia will just fade away are surely not too familiar with 1000 years of Russian history.
Russia had it worse, MUCH WORSE before.

I wonder what will happen to USA in 50 years, when whites will be a minority in USA? (less than 50%)
In year 2059,
Will Washington care about Europe as much as they do now?! Maybe Latinos in South-Western USA will try for their own country.
I guess will see.

Lingüista ütles ...

A.R.G., I agree with you that Russia is not going to turn against the 'stan countries; the reasons you mention are good ones (and I would add that the 'stan countries also have authoritarian, autocratic governments, which makes them closer to the Kremlin in philosophy).

But my point was not that Russia is going to do that -- no, I agree with you, Russia is not going to do that.

My point is that, if the Kremlin wanted to turn against the 'stan states, it could mobilize the press against them. And in a few years, most Russians (the masses who follow Putin and understand the world via TV-Zvesda or Pjervyj Kanal) would agree. They would forget the Balts -- they wouldn't love them, but they would forget about their 'threats' and get angry about the 'stan countries, who would then become enemy no.1 in the polls.

Again, I'm not saying that this will happen -- I'm saying the Kremlin could do this if it wanted. My point is: what the Russian masses think about foreign countries (and probably other topics as well) lasts only as long as the Kremlin wants.

And this is not because of 'Russian character' -- it's simply a consequence of living in a country where most of the means of acquiring information are controlled by the state. Other non-Russian authoritarian states are also like that.

As for Russians being treated worse in 'stan states -- you're probably right, it depends on the country. You said (on Turkmenistan): Moscow didn't complain much publicly, for economical and geo-politics reasons. Sure from Baltic point of view, it looks like a double standard and you right! But thats what large countries do, USA is like a front runner in that.

Yes, big countries tend to do that. But we should criticize them for doing this, because, as you point out, this is a double standard -- it's not right. I do criticize the US (and the EU) when they do similar things; I also criticize Russia. Any state who pretends to care about right and wrong while just paying attention to geopolitics gets my criticism.

On Russia's demographic problems: you are right in saying that they are not as important as they were when Mr Friedman wrote his article. The natality rate is indeed comparable to Western Europe. But there's a catch: the mortality rate hasn't gone down, so the problem is still there. And even if the mortality rate had gone down... Russia would still have exactly the same demographic problems as Western European countries, which all have had to accept foreign workers and imigrants to get their economies going, and who have now small armies, less geopolitical power, and ageing populations. If Russia's demographics become just like, say, Englad's, or Germany's, or France's, this will undermine Russian politics for exactly the same reasons that Mr Friedman points out.

In other words, the big problem is that Russia pursues a rather aggressive foreign policy that needs a non-European kind of demography. And up until now, its demography has, at best, looked like Europe's.

Lingüista ütles ...

A.R.G., I agree with you that Russia isn't going to disappear -- as you pointed out, Russia had it much worse in the past, and it survived.

But I think the point is: Russia (or the current Russian government) doesn't simply want to exist; it wants to be a superpower, and to keep being a superpower forever. That, I think, is not realistic -- for the reasons Mr Friedman explores: demography, bad economy, bad leadership, etc.

Unless the economic-demographic situation changes, the best Russia can get, I think, is to be like a European country (without the welfare state and economic development). Germany, England, France -- they are local powers, but they are not superpowers; and they can't be, despite their economic success. They have to rely on 'soft power' and looking attractive; they don't have the armies and the power necessary to be arrogant. And, as far as I can see, this is where Russia is headed, unless things change dramatically on the economic-demographic front.

Giustino ütles ...

In former USSR, Latvians and Estonians were always seen as very much sophisticated people. So I guess Russians in Estonia and Latvia were little shocked that they were reduced to second rate non-citizens in 1992. (for few years, I think Latvia actually had 'non-citizen' passports for local Russians). I expected far more from Balts than 'stans'.

The political forces in favor of a more inclusive citizenship bill (Popular Front) were unable to convince the majority of Estonian voters that it was in their interest to enfranchise people who had moved to Estonia after 1940. The majority of voters viewed that demographic as a threat, partially because of Intermovement.
Ironically, it was scenes like this that convinced voters to support the more conservative policies. At the end of that clip you'll see Edgar Savisaar and Marju Lauristin on the balcony, two Estonian politicians/thinkers who today are seen as being rather liberal on minority issues. Some of the same people who were trying to stop them in that clip probably vote for their parties today.

Lingüista ütles ...

Giustino, do you really think that, if Intermovement hadn't done things like this attack on Toompea, the Popular Front might have convinced Estonians to grant citizenship to the post-1940 Russians as well? I had the impression that this would in principle be incompatible with the continuity thesis: if the 1941-1991 period was an occupation, then everything that happened -- including the arrival of USSR internal migrants -- was illegal.

(I note the reaction of the very guy who uploaded this clip -- he titled it "Internatsid ründavad Toompead"...)

Giustino ütles ...

Giustino, do you really think that, if Intermovement hadn't done things like this attack on Toompea, the Popular Front might have convinced Estonians to grant citizenship to the post-1940 Russians as well?

If you step away from legal and emotional arguments and look at it from one of national interest, then perhaps if local Russian leaders had read the writing on the wall, they would have been able to argue for a better deal. Instead, people saw them as disloyal and in cases threatening to statehood.

Still, the current citizenship policy has been a pain in the ass. Officials are saddled with all of these negative reports from human rights groups, and at the same time many non-citizens don't want citizenship -- they want visa free EU and Russia travel and exemptions from military service. Foreign Minister Paet and former Population Affairs Minister Palo said: it's not that the procedures are especially difficult, it's that the stateless lack motivation to apply. I mean, what's the difference to them?

So here we are, it's almost 2010, waiting for those 7.7 percent of the population to finally pick up a friggin' passport. Ai ai ai, as the Estonian say.

plasma-jack ütles ...

I note the reaction of the very guy who uploaded this clip -- he titled it "Internatsid ründavad Toompead"...

That was how the Intermovement was commonly called back then by Estonians. Dunno who coined the word, but it was a quite obvious derivation. This song, recorded in 1989, probably written a bit earlier, might have done its part as well. This live clip is obviously way younger. Those who can read Estoninan, should check out the lyrics (in video information box) as well.
The punks were the real heros back then - at some moment they were the only ones stating openly how things were (and therefore constantly harassed by law enforcers, both KGB and militia), the were the first to come out with national tricolore (autumn 1987 in Võru) etc.

plasma-jack ütles ...

i mean, a certain amount of courage was definitely necessary when showing up in the street of 1986 looking like this

Lingüista ütles ...

Plasma-jack, I'm curious -- the punks were only Estonians? Weren't there any Russians also going around dressed like that, with the typical young man's defiance of the powers-that-be?

Lingüista ütles ...

Giustino, I guess some of the Russian activists would say that, even if the procedure is currently easier and all those 7.7% could probably get citizenship if they wanted, still it is a shame that it took almost two decades, etc. etc. etc.

I imagine they would say something like: "So now the Estonians think we can get citizenship and we won't be doing any crazy things, right? Well, if now we're not dangerous, then we weren't all that dangerous then either, right? If we had gotten citizenship automatically -- if Estonia hadn't gone with jus sanguinis -- well, Estonia would still be here, it would still be democratic, etc. So was there a reason other than misperceptions and bad but unfounded expectations about what we would do?"

And they might have a point there. Do you think Estonia would really have been much different now if all Russians had been granted immediate citizenship -- if not immediately after independence, then, say, a couple of years afterwards?

plasma-jack ütles ...

[i]Weren't there any Russians also going around dressed like that, with the typical young man's defiance of the powers-that-be?{/i]

I was three years old back then, but I think that Russian punks lived in Moscow or Leningrad. When legendary Russian band Kino played a gig in Tallinn in the 80-s, the crowd mainly consisted of Russian army recruits and ethnic Estonian punks and those two crowds obviously didn't mix very well.
But there definitely were many Russian hippies in Estonia in the 70-s and 80-s.

Inner monologue ütles ...

In Moscow, in the middle of the 80s, I was attending a DDT concert in the Vorobyovie Gory near the University of Moscow, and as I recall it, the crowd was all hippies. It was like being at a Grateful Dead concert sans the smell of weed in the air.

Oh, by the way, I need yous all help - how do ya translate the word 'rullnokk into proper English? Without this word I constantly run into shallow waters with my stories about Estonia.

Thanks.

Lingüista ütles ...

Judging by (what I understood of) what the eestikeelne Vikipeedia says, Estonian rullnokad look like average-stupid low-class young men pretty much everywhere... hard to give you a translation. The Vikipeedia also claims they're only an Estonian phenomenon...

Lingüista ütles ...

Said article from the Vikipeedia mentions chav as a possible equivalent in (British) English. Since I've never heard this word before, I don't know that it would be a succesful translation; but I'll defer to the native speakers (especially those from England).

plasma-jack ütles ...

"young Estonian rednecks"?

Inner monologue ütles ...

Thanks, I thought so. Not that easy, uh? When I first heard this word in the 90s I though it had something to do with lips or nose a la töllmokk or tattnina, only to gather soon after that Estonians did not like baseball hats and associated all unexplainable behavior to the strange custom of bending or rolling the hats visor.

At that time few estonians had ever seen a golf player in their life, but the word stayed it seems. People at my golf club would be very confused if an Estonian would disparage this particular and very practical hat. Nobody would understand that in Estonia one does not need to shield his eyes from beating sun and anybody wearing this gear would be taken for a fool.

The problem is, I cannot explain it in one word. And redneck aint really the word.

But thanks, guys.