Estonia should consider introducing anti-personnel mines in its national defense program, said Leo Kunnas (EKRE), deputy chairman of the Riigikogu's National Defense Committee, on Monday. Anti-personnel mines are banned in all European countries.
"While during the previous Riigikogu session, we argued about participation in the Ottawa Convention [banning the use of landmines], there is still no other alternative: anti-personnel landmines are an essential part of lines of defensive. They are cheap and effective — if you use them sensibly, i.e. make minefield maps — it can actually be done," said Kunnas, speaking on the "Otse uudistemajast" live broadcast.
"After all, we can see how big a part mines — combined anti-tank mines, anti-personnel mines all together — play in the Russian defensive lines and how difficult it is for the Ukrainian side to pass through them," he added.
Col. Eero Rebo, head of the General Staff of the Estonian Defense League (Kaitseliit), who also participated in the program, made it clear this is not a simple solution.
"Let it be said at the outset that anti-personnel mines, in particular, have their drawbacks: if we were to mine our own land, we would have a long-term problem," he said.
"At the moment we are under the Ottawa Convention, we have increased our firepower and our situational awareness. It is often a question of what risks to take, and where to channel the money for defense investments, and that is what the different schools of thought are arguing about. Landmines are a cheaper item, but we also have to take into account the area we would have to cover. And if we look at the mortar systems here, or the directional charges, for example, these are manually controllable, and here it's a question of which defense solution to go for," said Rebo.
But Kunnas argued that the Russians already use mines.
"Here is a very simple question, are there any substantial or valid arguments that could refute the fact that we should not use anti-personnel weapons when the Russian side is doing it anyway, there really is no relevant or valid argument," he said.
The MP said everything depends on how Estonia would use mines.
"I have no doubts about the professionalism of the Defense Forces or the Defense League that they would not be able to map a minefield properly," Kunnas said.
The Ottawa Convention has been signed by 163 counties, including all 27 EU member states. Estonia became a signatory in 2004.
The treaty prohibits the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and asks signatories to destroy their stocks.
Russia, China, and the United States have not signed the agreement.
Last year, before Finland joined NATO, discussions were held about withdrawing from the treaty to add additional protection to its eastern border. The government was against the idea.
Editor: Mari Peegel, Helen Wright
Source: Otse uudistemajast