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President Alar Karis: Any attack on NATO would be soundly defeated

Ceremony marking the 105th anniversary of the Battle of Paju, Wednesday, January 31, 2024.
Ceremony marking the 105th anniversary of the Battle of Paju, Wednesday, January 31, 2024. Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia/Raigo Pajula

At a time when regional security and the underpinnings of the free world are being threatened, Estonia must once again demonstrate the self-confidence and will to defend itself that it displayed during the 1918-1920 Estonian War of Independence, President Alar Karis says.

The head of state made his comments while attending an event commemorating the 105th anniversary of the Battle of Paju, which took place in Valga County, in South Estonia.

Speaking at the battle site, President Karis said with regard to the current security situation that, while the Russian Federation is currently militarily fairly weak in the area close to Estonia's borders, this will not remain the case indefinitely.

"With its aggression in Ukraine, the Kremlin has challenged us, and our allies," the head of state said.

The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), the volunteer Defense League (Kaitesliit) and society as a whole are being repurposed towards a more effective national defense, the president went on.

"We are carrying this out together with our NATO and free world allies. The enemy knows that they have no chance, that they will be push back from the first yard, and from the first minute. Whoever wants to bring any 'wind' or even 'storm' against NATO is inviting inevitable destruction and defeat," the head of state added, via a press release.

Fought on January 31, 1919, the Battle of Paju was a key victory for the Estonian forces.

In some of the fiercest fighting of that conflict, the battle saw Estonian forces push Soviet-aligned strelnieki, Latvian riflemen, out of Paju Manor, just to the north of the city of Valga.

Estonian commander Julius Kuperjanov, after whom a present-day EDF infantry battalion is named, fell in the fighting.

President Karis noted that it provided a boost in self-confidence for the Estonian side, and demonstrated that by working together, an overwhelmingly larger opponent could be defeated, in both the South and the East (an added dimension to this conflict was in addition to fighting with the Latvian Red riflemen, Estonian forces fought German Baltische Landeswehr and Freikorps troops, most notably at the Battle of Cesis in the summer of 1919 - ed.).

"Self-confidence and the will to defend are like a snowball that continues to grow, once it gets rolling," the head of state added.

This is all both achievable and affordable for a self-confident nation which has a high level of will to defend itself, President Karis stressed.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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