Whether Abduction or 'Detention,' Security Analysts See Russian Foul Play (1)
Security analysts and other former officials saw the disappearance of an Estonian counterintelligence agent near the Russian border this morning as part of a politically motivated dirty game orchestrated by Russia "to show Estonia its place" after two impressive foreign policy achievements.
"To kidnap a national security officer on the territory of a NATO member...I don't recall such a thing having happened in the post-Cold War era," said Eerik-Niiles Kross, an intelligence analyst who is currently an IRL politician, in Postimees. "This definiitely should be filed under 'rewriting the rules.'"
Former Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu, also of IRL, said, also in Postimees: "This is just not deprivation of liberty, it's an act of terror. It's designed to politically influence a country. It is an attack against the Republic of Estonia to shake our resolve. Certainly everything that can be done must be done on the highest international level as it is an unprecedented step with regard to the EU and NATO member states."
Reinsalu speculated that the timing was significant, coming two days after US President Obama visited Estonia and delivered a strong message of US commitment to defend Estonia, and in the middle of the NATO Wales Summit.
Although the opposition party IRL has been outspoken of late in a shadow government role, this view was shared by party members who still hold senior office. Marko Mihkelson, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told uudised.err.ee that it was a "serious provocation against Estonian sovereignty."
"This is one of the most serious incidents in Estonian-Russian relations and it isn't out of the question that the subcurrents of this event are related to the increased attention from Western governments on strengthening Baltic defense capability."
Estonia said the officer, Eston Kohver, was kidnapped on the Estonian side while investigating a crime. The Russian side claims, although without providing evidence or naming witnesses, that Kohver had strayed on to the Russian side. He is being held by the FSB.
Top Internal Security Service officials have used more a neutral tone, saying that the case is being treated at face value for now, without speculation on motive or claims of terrorism.