Minister Counters Doubts About Estonian Defense Capabilities
Defense Minister Sven Mikser has called into question “alarmist positions” that Estonia is not ready for quick and effective defense, saying that the country has a long-term defense strategy and strong allies.
Speaking on the ETV's morning program today, Mikser was asked about an article by Martin Hurt, the deputy director of the International Center for Defense Studies, who raised the issue on the response capabilities of the Estonian Defense Forces in case of an attack.
Mikser said that advance warnings and assessing the situation are essential in today’s world and in recent years, the focus of Western foresight has shifted away from Russia. The need to pay closer attention to Russia and the deployment of its forces within its territory is one of the lessons of the annexation of Crimea, Mikser said.
Another important point is Russia's employment of more covert tactics instead of conventional warfare and Mikser said NATO must be prepared to counter the appearance of “little green men” on its territory, which would require a more flexible approach.
“There have always been alarmist voices, saying that Russia has won. Actually, if we look at the success of NATO and the success of the EU, how attractive it has been, and the fact that throughout history, no one has dared to attack a NATO member state, then I think there is no cause for such panic,” Mikser said, commenting on doubts cast on the rapid response capabilities of Estonian forces.
According to Mikser, what Estonia lacks in size, it makes up in allies, good training and continually improving equipment, and the country's long-term defense strategy is based on thorough planning and factoring in specific threat scenarios.
He said that the presence of NATO’s ground forces and other aspects, like the international air policing mission in the Baltic states, also contribute to collective defense and send out a message of unity of the alliance.
The minister said Estonia has voiced its opposition to the sale of Mistral-class ships by France to Russia, but said that using the Estonian participation in the Central African Republic mission as a lever to strongarm Paris would not contribute to Estonian security.