EDF commander: We can't rule out eventuality of Russian military attack

Lt. Gen. Martin Herem on Friday''s 'Otse uudistemajast'.
Lt. Gen. Martin Herem on Friday''s 'Otse uudistemajast'. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

A military attack from the Russian Federation cannot be ruled out, the commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) said Friday, and immediate contingency preparations are needed.

Appearing on ERR's "Otse uudistemajast" broadcast Friday, Lt. Gen. Martin Herem told the show that: "We are saying that Russia is a threat, that it may attack. But when will this be? Will it be this year, next year, after three years? We need to realize that this may indeed happen in the coming years."

The attack need not be accompanied by full occupation, he added.

"Russia's goal likely isn't to occupy us – it does not want to gain control through occupation, but it enjoys instability and influence via instability," Lt. Gen. Herem continued.

"I is not necessary to occupy Tallinn to do so. For this, a short-term, limited invasion could be made with military forces supported before, after and at the same time with other elements of hybrid warfare," he went on, adding the scenario could be similar to the long-running conflict in eastern Ukraine, or a shorter variant of that.

In any event, an attack is not impossible and preparations should be made, including investment in the short-term, rather than by 2030, for example, he said.

Herem made his remarks the same day as the large-scale Exercise Zapad (English: "West") kicked off in Russia and Belarus, involving up to 200,000 personnel.

The exercise, which is held every four years, comes at a time of heightened tensions, including between Belarus and the EU, and the West as a whole, tensions which began in earnest with the reelection of Alexander Lukashenko to a sixth term in office in August 2020 and have found their most recent manifestation after large numbers of illegal border crossings from Belarus into Lithuania, Latvia and Poland – all EU member states.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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