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Estonian Defense Forces Commander Sees No Immediate Military Threat to Estonia

Defense Forces Commander Riho Terras
Defense Forces Commander Riho Terras Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Estonian Defense Forces Commander in Chief Major General Riho Terras said he sees no real immediate military threat to Estonia at the moment and the focus should be on NATO’s Article 5 and rapid response units.


Commenting on the battle-readiness of the Russian army, Terras said there are reforms underway and the effects are gradually becoming visible. The old weapons systems have been modernized, but the military is having trouble making a transition to a professional army because there are not enough recruits, Terras said in an interview with ETV.

“Whereas in previous years, a lot has been made of the Russian army not being capable of doing various things, today they have a very credible capability of doing them,” Terras said.

According to Terras, Estonia is at the forefront of NATO in terms of intelligence and experts are aware of what is going on across the border.

He stressed that it is difficult to compare Ukraine to Estonia because the former is not a NATO member, and, according to Terras, the Ukrainians were unsure how to act due to the presence of Russian military bases in the country.

The Estonian army is focusing on ensuring a fast response, as Russia has demonstrated its ability to move large units around in a short space of time.

“First, it is impossible to believe that when a conflict erupts, we will have contracts that will bring us ammunition, weapons and equipment - we must have it here already. Second, when it comes to NATO, it is important to understand that if we’ve spoken about contingency plans so far, we must now seriously think about defense plans based on Article 5,” Terras said when asked about the lessons of Crimea.

Terras says he does not see a real military threat to Estonia today, but the situation could escalate as in Ukraine, where, admittedly, it took months to get to the boiling point.

“What is important today is to determine which things work and which things don’t work: how fast will they get here, to which bases, how will they operate. It is noteworthy that when we asked for planes, it took three days and 20 hours for 18 US fighter aircraft to reach the Polish-Baltic region. And that’s a considerable amount of time,” he said, adding that dominance in the air was a vital part of military defense.

Expressing regret that the Ukrainian army is prohibited from taking military action and "forced to limit themselves to singing the national anthem," Terras said that in case of a military invasion of Estonia, even if the invading troops have no identifiable insignia, “all military and internal means of defense will be used to repel the attack."


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