Top officials: Russia practicing missile strikes on Estonia is nothing new

Press conference announcing €3.8-billion defense budget for 2023-2026, Friday, May 20 2022.
Press conference announcing €3.8-billion defense budget for 2023-2026, Friday, May 20 2022. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Russia simulating missile attacks on Estonia's borders is nothing new or unusual, Commander of the Estonia Defense Forces Martin Herem and Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet (Reform) have said.

Simulating an attack means all the maneuvers are carried out except actually pushing the launch button, Wednesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

Russia has repeatedly carried out these exercises in the past using strikes on Estonia and the Baltic states in its wargaming scenarios, Herem told the program.

"This means setting targets and directing them, targeting weapons systems there. This has happened before, but it has now happened after February 24," he said.

Laanet reiterated there is nothing new about this situation but said it had not been so clearly communicated before.

"When Russia conducts military exercises, under whatever name, they generally practice attacking other countries. Unfortunately, Russia has been practicing conquering other countries for a longtime. There is nothing strange about that," Laanet said.

Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet (Reform). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Unlike Russia, Estonia, either alone or with its NATO allies, only practices defense activities, he added.

But raising awareness about Russia's activities in the region helps other NATO members understand why it is important to strengthen the alliance's eastern flank — especially ahead of the Madrid summit next week, he said.

"In order to give Italians, Spaniards and even Central Europeans clear information and an understanding of what is really going on. [...] It needs to be clarified in full what the real security situation is and what the threats may be," he said.

At the same time, Russia may be interested in how the news is received abroad.

It is very difficult to know which scenarios the Russians are practicing unless they leak the information themselves because the exercises do not physically take place and cannot be tracked by satellites, Kalev Stoicescu, a researcher at the International Center for Defense Studies (ICDS) think tank in Tallinn, told AK.

"This means it is a political message," he said

Russia is simulating missile attacks against Estonia as part of military exercises in the lead-up to the NATO summit next week, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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