kolmapäev, detsember 06, 2006

Mina või?

Let me pose a serious question to you. Other than Russia, is there any other country that militarily threatens Estonia? Think hard. Do you expect Swedish tourists to sack the capital? British stag parties to occupy the Riigikogu? Angry Finnish dockworkers to shut down Estonian ports? Since the 14th century, has any other country, other than Russia, ever explicitly waged war against the Estonian people? Wasn't Russia also the country whose soldiers put up a sign saying "we'll be back" when they were forced to withdraw their presence in 1994? Don't Russian military planes routinely violate Estonian airspace?

Then why should the following comments from Major General Ants Laaneots be treated as anything but fact:

Major General Ants Laaneots, new commander of the Estonian Defence Force, who was appointed to the post on December 5, said in his first interview that he regarded Russia as the main threat to the security of their republic.

“We border on an unfriendly state, to put it mildly. Relations with Russia are our main problem from the point of view of ensuring our security,” he said in an interview, published by the Eesti Paevaleht newspaper on Wednesday. He believes Tallinn should rely on the NATO armed forces for neutralizing “the Russian threat”, and should take part in NATO missions.

As they say in the valley, "like, no duh." Anyway, these words drew a response from the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in Greece:

Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov has suggested that the leaders of Estonia and Latvia should stop taking Russia and its people for extraterrestrials and should pay attention to the “impermissible heroizing of fascism.”

Ivanov spoke about it here on Wednesday after the talks with his Greek counterpart Evangelos Meimarakis.

“Using the diplomatic language, I could say that such statements evoke perplexity and concern, that they are impossible to understand,” Ivanov said, commenting on the interview of Major General Ants Laaneots, commander of the Estonian Defence Force, which was published by the local Eesti Paevaleht newspaper.

I love how Estonia and Latvia usually become the same country in the eyes of Russian foreign policy. These were comments from an Estonian general, yet he managed to work Latvia in there too.

But I feel their rapid response betrays the obvious, that the last thing they want while they meet with the French or the Greeks or the Italians as to be seen as threatening to an EU neighbor. They'll continue to act like chauvinistic pricks behind the scene, mind you, but in public they want everyone to know how much they love peace. So in a way, you could read Ivanov's comments as a good thing.

15 kommentaari:

Anonüümne ütles ...

How funny. At one point in the 1990s Kindral Laaneots was considered to have "too much baggage" from the Moscow empire for his previous service (especially Ethiopia). And now Moscow is saying this?

Laaneots by far is the best military mind in Estonia, probably the best produced since the War of Independence, continuing a tradition of military tactical excellence amongst the Estonian officer corps. I am glad Ilves and others chose to look at this now and not at any perceived issues regarding his past.

Laaneots knows what the real issues are, and will be a good change from the more paper-pushing Admiral Kõuts -- who, despite being an good solid guy, has little of the experience to do the job effectively. Väliseestlased may not like this choice, but ironically it was chosen by väliseestlane number üks...

BTW Estonia has faced direct aggression from Denmark, Sweden, Poland-Lithuania, and semi-indirect from France.

Giustino ütles ...

BTW Estonia has faced direct aggression from Denmark, Sweden, Poland-Lithuania, and semi-indirect from France.

I think you are right, I'll go back and change my post. But after the middle ages, most "threats" were the by product of imperial wars - Sweden versus Russia etc. Estonian casualties were just an unfortunate consequence.

Anonüümne ütles ...

As it turned into "whining about details" :D then, all the stuff started in the 11th century.

(in Estonian)
List of all Russian invasions to Estonia

Giustino ütles ...

I'll add that most people that I have spoken to in Russia today laugh when I bring up the idea of them invading Estonia.

Russian foreign policy towards the Baltics is muddled because I think that the most important "Baltic state" for them is Latvia.

That is, they apply their feelings towards Riga towards both Estonia and Lithuania.

Even Ivanov, couldn't help to link Estonia and Latvia in his statement.

But the thing is that they are two different countries with different languages, histories, integration policies, etc.

It's unfair for Latvians to be implicated in a statement from an Estonian general, just like it is unfair to link the Estonian citizenship process to the Latvian one.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Germans have also invaded Estonia (twice, I think).

B. Kriplur ütles ...

Don't forget China. Cheap flat screen TV's are a threat we all face.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Do you think, it may be possible, Russia is dangerous not only to Estonia & Latvia, but whole Europe? Giustino, have You recieved the pictures from "Nädal Pildis" 1938 about Munic "summit"? Probably there needs no such war, Hitler used. But the first rocket, gas pipeline, is on the way for Russias supremacy in Europe.

Giustino ütles ...

Do you think, it may be possible, Russia is dangerous not only to Estonia & Latvia, but whole Europe?

I think that parts of Russia's elite still think like it is 1925 and they are constantly probing the West for weakness with regards to, say, Georgia.

As long as we pay attention, they won't make a move. But if we start concentrating about someplace else, it is likely that Russia could probe the eastern flank of Europe too - starting with its closest neighbors.

Giustino ütles ...

I'd like to add that because Europe is an increasingly common market, it is hard to think of how you could target "only" Estonia without directly hurt the Finns and Swedes, financially.

Once Estonia joins the Euro zone, this old kind of "occupation" would effect the entire EMU.

That doesn't seem to match with Russia's desire to be an energy hegemon.

Giustino ütles ...

Here's something to chew on:

I. Do you guys think that Laaneots should have kept his mouth shut vis a vis Russia or was he right to speak so honestly to the press?

II. Do you think that the Russian government has reacted well or poorly to his statement? It seems to me that they should say something like, "Despite our differences, we consider Estonia to be a neighbor that we respect."

What could both sides have done differently?

Anonüümne ütles ...

Laaneots was right to speak the way he did. First, as the commander of the military, he needs to spell out the threats to the country and how to deal with it from a military point-of-view. However, he was right not to openly talk about conscription/profesional military since that is more an issue of policy. This is a careful line that needs to be followed in modern civil-military relations, one that (ironically) was pushed most notably by Kindral Einseln -- the US-trained army man.

And yes, energy and resources has been the precursor to many conflicts. Look at the oil embargo against Japan that led to Pearl Harbor. Look at the burning of Kuwaiti oil that led to Desert Storm. Look at how China is provoking Japan, Korea, Vietnam and the Phillipines on energy-rich territorial waters; look how Iran is threatening the Strait of Hourmouz if things gets nasty with the US. Energy is the key, and Russia's got all of us by our freezing balls...

Giustino ütles ...

And yes, energy and resources has been the precursor to many conflicts.

But it's hard to see an energy conflict that ONLY affects Estonia. For example, with the Estlink cable, wouldn't any energy interference hit Finland and Scandinavia as well?

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

'Do you guys think that Laaneots should have kept his mouth shut vis a vis Russia or was he right to speak so honestly to the press?'

I like it outspoken. I am always wondering about the primitive language they use in absent of public. Things you get to read in memoirs only. But this happens more then a decade later in general, and then it is too late, almoust.

plasma-jack ütles ...

1. Laaneots was right to say the truth.
2. Ivanov's reaction was OK - he said that Russia has no intentions to threaten us. That's always a nice thing to hear. And about the fascism issue - wasn't a really big surprise, now was it.

B. Kriplur ütles ...

In a way Estonia's military situation is similar to South Korea's. I have heard that the American military knows that if North Korea launched a full fledged attack that the small number of American troops there would be overrun, and that the actual reason those troops are there is to act as a "trip wire" - meaning that it would give the US all of the justification it needed to launch an all out war on North Korea.

I think the situation is the same in that Estonia is a kind of "trip wire." I don't see how it is possible that a NATO member could be attacked without a full reaction from the US and others. (Article 5 states that an attack against one country is considered an attack against all)

An interesting thought this brings up is whether the EU will develop its military to the point where it can act independently of the U.S. Since the disaster of the Suez Crisis, no European country has been able to act independently in a military sense. However, if Europe does develop its military that will be a second reason why Russia will not be able to invade Estonia again unless it is prepared for an all out war.