Kallas: Estonia would be 'wiped from map' under existing NATO plans

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Kaja Kallas.
Kaja Kallas. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Estonia would be wiped off the map and Tallinn's Old Town completely destroyed under NATO's current plans to defend the country from a Russian attack, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) told the Financial Times (FT) newspaper and other foreign media outlets on Wednesday.

Kallas said the alliance's existing defense plans for the Baltic states is to allow them to be overrun before liberating them after 180 days.

She pointed out that it is just over 100 days since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine and that the atrocities carried out by the Russians at Bucha occurred after 80 days.

"If you compare the sizes of Ukraine and the Baltic countries, it would mean the complete destruction of countries and our culture," the FT reported Kallas saying.

"Those of you who have been to [the capital] Tallinn and know our old town and the centuries of history that's here and centuries of culture that's here — that would all be wiped off the map, including our people, our nation."

The prime minister was speaking ahead of NATO's summit in Madrid which starts on Tuesday (June 28).

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are submitting a joint proposal for additional troops and permanent division command centers in each country, a step above the current Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) temporary rotating troops which have been called a "tripwire" and aim to deter a Russian attack.

"Now everyone sees that this tripwire concept doesn't really work," Kallas said.

All NATO allies must agree upon the proposal and Estonia has been working to secure their support.

Former FM critical of Kallas' comments

Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday. May 16, 2022. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liiimets (Center) was critical of the prime minister's comments and said confidential defense plans should not be made public.

"Defense plans are not put together in the columns of the Financial Times, it requires trust and common understanding. Today it seems the prime minister has made public sentences related to classified defense plans which our eastern neighbor [Russia] can now read and draw conclusions from," Liimets said on Thursday.

"If this is so, then it is a very serious situation and raises questions not only among the Estonian people but also among our allies."

Liimets added the changed security situation requires a response from both NATO and Estonia and that foreign ministers from the Baltic states and Poland already submitted their suggestions in the spring.

Liimets was minister of foreign affairs from February 2021 until the government collapsed earlier this month. She is a career diplomat who was formerly ambassador to the Czech Republic.

Lithuanian politicians not worried about Kallas' comments

Lithuanian flag. Source: Martin Dremljuga/ERR

Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT reported politicians in the country, a fellow NATO member and ally, were not concerned about Kallas' comments.

The remarks were meant to "raise the political temperature" in the run-up to the NATO summit, said Laurynas Kasčiunas, chairman of the Lithuanian parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense.

Minister of Defense Arvydas Anušauskas said politicians do not always know every detail of defense plans and they often contain different scenarios. He urged people "not to get upset by every politician's statement".

"There are no, and there cannot be any assumptions about ceding territory in advance," the minister said.

Lithuanian politicians agreed with Kallas that NATO's plans need to be updated.

Ministry of Defense: Information publicly available

In a statement issued on Thursday evening, Estonia's Ministry of Defense said the information Kallas had given to journalists is publically available and not confidential.

Editor's note: This article was updated to add comments from Eva-Maria Liiimets, Laurynas Kasčiunas, Arvydas Anušauskas and the Estonian Ministry of Defense.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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