An increased American military presence in Estonia might prompt an "allergic" reaction from Russia, but it is Estonia's prerogative to decide whether it wants permanently stationed US units, were such a possibility on the table, says the editor-in-chief of foreign policy periodical Diplomaatia, Kaarel Kaas.
Speaking on ERR radio on Thursday, Kaas said that Europe asking the United States for military aid is not a new phenomenon. The question of a permanent US military presence in Estonia, something that Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu recently backed and Foreign Minister Urmas Paet also mentioned, is only hypothetical, Kaas said.
He said that any such move would serve as a red flag for Russia, but that Estonia should ignore those emotions, adding that Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said a few weeks ago that Russia has the legal right to move its weapons to any region in its territory, including ballistic missile systems to Kaliningrad. German media reported in December that Russia had recently positioned around 10 Iskander-M batteries in the Baltic Sea exclave.
Limited military conflicts such as the war in Georgia are one thing, Kaas said, but all-out war is out of reach for European nations as well as for Russia.
He said that the United States currently has two infantry brigades and a few air and navy units based in Europe, but in Estonia the possible scenarios are a few fighter jets or a missile defense system.