Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!

Estonia President: 'Russia Is out to Get Us. NATO Attitude Is Repulsive. I'm not Hysterical.'

Facing menacing Russsia Estonia president is not feeling the love of his NATO allies:
 

  • "That the Georgians wanted to move towards NATO in 2008 was enough of a reason for a war for Russia."
  • "This time the reason was something as small as an Association Agreement with the EU."
  • "But the Putin appologists criticize the EU that it was a mistake. That one must understand Russia's fears."
  • "No, but we feel vindicated. For 20 years they have been told the Eastern Europeans, calm down, Russia is a normal country. And now we see that we were right. "
  • "And as people say we are paranoid. Countries, who say this should rather pay attention to their high deficit and excessive wage costs."
  • "Anyway, if we are attacked and slaughtered en masse, there will certainly be a few people in Germany who will plead for more empathy with Russia."
  • "But we are not dull little East subhumans. This condescending attitude [of NATO partners] towards Estonians is repulsive."

This article originally appeared in Die Welt. It was translated via Google Translate


Russia upgraded its presence on the NATO border. Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov announced Tuesday in Moscow, "an increase in combat units in accordance with our military planning". This was given special attention Poland and Lithuania who border the [Russian] Kaliningrad exclave.

The situation in the Baltic Sea region has been tense since the beginning of Ukraine crisis, since Moscow has massively increased its sea and air maneuvers.

NATO patrols since the airspace, the Bundeswehr has a command in Estonia, whose president calls for a much stronger NATO presence.

Talking with Toomas Hendrik Ilves, a Social Democrat and since 2006 head of state, is Stefanie Bolzen.

The World: Did the Estonians reason to fear?

Toomas Hendrik Ilves: If you are in the EU and NATO, there is no reason to fear. We are living in a situation such as in West Germany before 1989, the risk is there, one observes bad behavior, but you live with it. You even make jokes.

The World: In the NATO headquarters in Brussels and elsewhere in European capitals, some said the Balts were hysterical.

Ilves: That's typical for people who do not want to look, at what actually happened.

The world order found after the Cold War has been destroyed. The UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act were broken, the Paris Charter of 1990 - which says that each country can make his own decisions when it comes to its national security. Moscow has signed these.

That the Georgians wanted to move towards NATO in 2008 was enough of a reason for a war for Russia. This time the reason was something as small as an Association Agreement with the EU.

The World: Is that really so small?

Ilves: I'm really surprised that opinion writers and others in the French and German media look to blame the Association Agreement.

This is little more than a free trade agreement and a student exchange. This is not a big deal.

But the Putin appologists criticize the EU that it was a mistake. That one must understand Russia's fears.

I'll tell you something: May 8, 1945, was the definitive answer to annexing other territories because of the minority living there. German, which is now required to understand that for Russia - this is a matter of blood and soil.

The World: Feel like an outsider in the Western alliance?

Ilves: No, but we feel vindicated. For 20 years they have been told the Eastern Europeans, calm down, Russia is a normal country. And now we see that we were right.

A few days ago, we have seen first strategic bomber of the Russian Air Force over the Baltic Sea.

And as people say we are paranoid. Countries, who say this should rather pay attention to their high deficit and excessive wage costs.

The World: The large number of maneuvers on the Baltic Sea, the kidnapping of an Estonian border guards - what are Putin's plans?

Ilves: We should not expect too much behind schedule. "We are great, we are strong" behind it. This time, however, Russia has miscalculated the consequences of his actions are much larger than expected, they thought that passes everything quickly, as then in Georgia.

The World: In the case of Ukraine will therefore not happen?

Ilves: Russia is one of many people who want to get rid of the sanctions to return to everyday business. But if we turn back the sanctions, then we accept things as they are.

Fortunately, at least the government in Berlin has realized that it was here to overthrow the proceeds, which was 70 years, based on international relations and European security architecture.

The World: Do you see a change of mindset in Germany?

Ilves: I feel that since the speech of President Gauck in Munich it has been much better (at the security conference 2014 Red d..).

Because before I had slowly been under the impression that Germany always found an excuse not to do something: the Second World War, the Gestapo, the Stasi.

The World: What is the acute threat scenario?

Ilves: I'm not worried that Russia is now doing something. But that we do not recognize the reality. Contracts that have been broken. But we do not respond, because that is unpleasant. For countries like mine, for small countries, rules are very important. Otherwise, do the strong, whatever suits them.

The World: Putin argues that Russia would threaten the West.

Ilves: Russia is threatened? So now we blame the victims, the Ukrainians? Anyway, if we are attacked and slaughtered en masse, there will certainly be a few people in Germany who will plead for more empathy with Russia.

The World: What does Estonia do, so that does not happen?

Ilves: Every year we spend two percent of our budget on defense, we do not have conscription, and it is very popular.

When the Soviets invaded Prague in 1968 the West German government did everything to slow down the planned withdrawal of Allied troops.

We are now a country on the front line, as West Germany it once was. Where 45,000 US troops are stationed today. In Estonia, there are currently just 150.

The World: Since the Ukraine-NATO crisis the Baltic secures additional. But the alliance will not touch the NATO-Russia Founding Act, which excludes a permanent stationing of troops at the border with Russia.

Ilves: Yes, the word "permanent" is in it. But just as the term "current security environment." 1997, when the contract with Boris Yeltsin was closed because could not stand by Russia's Air Force, who had no kerosene.

This was a very different security environment. Now from other NATO countries to be told, because nothing has changed, which will provide guarantees as a member in a dubious light.

The World: Why not change your NATO partners their opinion?

Ilves: That's not for me to understand. When I address this question with high officials, then they go away.

The World: Why?

Ilves: Because it's embarrassing for them. Because there is not an intellectually convincing answer. But we are not dull small East subhuman. This condescending attitude towards Estonians is repulsive.


Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!

Our commenting rules: You can say pretty much anything except the F word. If you are abusive, obscene, or a paid troll, we will ban you. Full statement from the Editor, Charles Bausman.

Add new comment