Experts: US situation shouldn't affect Estonian security in big way

Reform MP and former EDF commander Ants Laaneots.
Reform MP and former EDF commander Ants Laaneots. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The United States is likely to focus more on domestic politics in the aftermath of the tensions surrounding the still-ongoing election count, which will mean its allies may have to take a backseat, experts say.

At the same time, the security picture for Estonia is not likely to change much, the commentators told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Thursday night.

Martin Hurt, researcher at the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) said that nevertheless Europeans should concentrate on bolstering their own security rather than relying on the U.S., since other major powers can move in to exploit the vacuum.

Hurt said: "We see can see past examples of how the Olympics have been exploited, and how the quieter summer period, the summer holiday period, has been exploited, at least in August. This happens from time to time, of course. There is no getting away from that."

Cooperation is thus needed with regional allies and neighbors.

"We certainly can't just be dependent on what the U.S. does and then expect it to solve all our problems. We can't simply say we've done everything we can, and now all the other countries have to help us," he added.

Indrek Kannik, Director of Analysis at the Estonian Eastern Partnership Center, and newly-picked ICDS chief, told AK that the relevant U.S. security policy bodies will continue to work, regardless of what happens with the elections and who the next president ends up being.

He added that he cannot see how a relatively weak Russia would want to entangle itself in any new adventures right now.

Kannik said: "I cannot see that in the current situation how our eastern neighbor, who has its own issues ranging from Belarus to the Armenian-Azerbaijani war, has any desire to create more serious security problems in our region."

He also did not think that China would capitalize on the situation.

"If we are still assuming that this is a relatively short-term phase of instability and crisis, then I do not think that China risks taking very big steps in this situation," Kannik said.

Former Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) chief and now Reform MP Ants Laaneots agreed, noting that Russia has its own issues, with a shrinking economy, around 70 percent of the population living below the poverty line, and anti-government demonstrations in Siberia ongoing for some time.

The Russian Federation is also discussing defense cuts, he said.

Laaneots, who chairs the Riigikogu's National Defence Committee said: "This means that domestic political problems are so great … that Putin would hardly dare to start a major war somewhere right now."


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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