Reinsalu Urges People to Join Home Guard ({{commentsTotal}})

Minister of Defense Urmas Reinsalu said Russia's pressure on Ukraine and saber rattling throughout the region attested to a need to draw on all members of the citizenry and that one way of doing so was to enter the Defense League, Estonia's volunteer defense organization.

"I call on all people in Estonia to join the Defense League, as it is through this organisation that everyone can contribute to making Estonian better protected tomorrow than it is today," said Reinsalu, reported on Sunday.

He said members fell into the categories of active member and supporting member and did not need previous military training or knowledge.

"The Defense League is not just a military organization, it is a volunteer force that can be supported with knowledge or money."

Estonia's national defense plan calls for membership of the Defense League to be expanded to 30,000 by 2022, more than double the current 14,000.

An informal online poll conducted by the daily Postimees over the weekend yielded over 8,000 responses, with 32 percent saying they would seriously consider joining, 14 percent saying they might do so in the future, and 36 percent saying they would not. Twelve percent said they were already members.

The Ukrainians, which previously lacked a national guard, themselves issued a call to form such an organization, which will be 60,000 strong.