Helme: Creating a crisis reserve force is critical for internal security

Interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE).
Interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE). Source: Vladislava Snurnikova/ERR

Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) said the creation of a crisis reserve force is necessary because the equipment of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and Defense League (Kaitseliit) does not match as one organization ensures internal security and the other military security.

At a press conference on Friday, Helme said creating a crisis reserve force is critical for internal security.

Helme said: "There are about 1,100 auxiliary police officers in Estonia, 450 of them are in the Defense League. This means that in a war or mobilization situation, those people would leave the police force."

The interior minister noted the development of synergy and cooperation between the PPA and the Defense League is important, raising the sharing of equipment as an example. At the same time, the organizations can not take over each others functions.

Helme commented on the potential riot control objective of the crisis reserve: "We will not send the Defense League with long rifles and automatic weapons to disperse and kill people, that is absurd."

He said the notes and proposals of the Ministry of Defense were being discussed and he expressed hope an agreement could be reached. Helme added the creation of a crisis reserve force would cost Estonia €20 million over the next four years.

Jaanis Otsla, head of the Ministry of the Interior Rescue and Crisis Management Policy Department, said currently no additional reserve force is needed but the situation could become problematic if mobilization or a declaration of war is announced.

Otsla explained: "That for which we are preparing for currently, /.../ is before, anything else, ensuring a state of public security so there would not be any robberies or killings while the nation is preparing for war."

Helme explained that specialization and training are critical so different fields of crisis management would have people in charge who have received appropriate training.

He repeatedly emphasized that the idea to create a crisis reserve has long been discussed in the ministry and he was not the initiator of the idea.

The interior minister said: "Mart Helme is the instrument that is currently helping put these things into force and is fighting for them to work out."

On July 10, the Ministry of Defense did not approve the bill, claiming that their positions have not been taken into account when drawing up the amendments.

Minister of Defense Jüri Luik: Tasks of crisis reserve are not yet clear

Minister of Defense Jüri Luik (Isamaa) called Estonia a small country without an inexhaustible reserve.

He said: "Volunteers of the Defense League are compared to professional police officers often in these discussions. The comparison is not accurate, we are speaking of volunteers in the crisis reserve who have to be constantly trained, taught and equipped."

The defense minister said the creation of a crisis reserve should not hinder organization of national defense.

Luik said: "Estonia has a reserve force, which makes it important for the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) to be able to call on the reserve personnel immediately in case of a crisis. The current draft law would excuse members of the crisis reserve from all EDF duty. It is important that the creation of new structures does not damage the reserve force that has been built for decades."

He said the existing reserve should not be set aside for a new force.

Luik said: "The legal framework of the EDF, the experience, training, equipment and the lasting cooperation with the PPA allows for the organization to be utilized across Estonia for both military tasks and civil crises."

Defense minister Luik also noted the tasks of the potential crisis reserve force have not yet been made clear.

He explained: "All kinds of attacks on Estonia, including hybrid attacks are clear actions against Estonia and for the EDF to repel. Even in the case of 'little green men', who are not actually men, but special forces of the enemy."


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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