Estonian foreign minister: Russia can be deterred
Russian leadership acts in a rational way, which means that NATO can deter Russia's aggressiveness with its actions, Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser said on Wednesday.
"I do not think that Russian leadership is irrational in its behavior, and since Russia is not irrational, it is deterrable," Mikser told reporters following a meeting with German Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel in Tallinn. "It means that when a rational community — NATO, Europe — gives a clear and united message and also demonstrates its joint commitment to the defense of our region, these dangers can be prevented and deterred."
According to the Estonian minister, this is precisely what NATO has been doing by consistently implementing decisions made at the alliance's Wales and Warsaw Summits. "Today, a new NATO deterrence is being established in our region, within whose framework Germany is making a contribution as the framework nation in Lithuania," Mikser highlighted, also recognizing the U.K., Canada and the U.S. for their respective roles in Estonia, Latvia and Poland as well. "In addition, immediately following aggression against Ukraine, NATO expanded several earlier initiatives, such as Baltic Air Policing, where Germany is likewise a very visible and regular contributor, on Estonian soil as well," he noted.
"What we are doing is not aimed at putting similar capability here vis-à-vis each Russian unit, helicopter or tank, but simply demonstrating this deterrence posture — that we are united, that we are ready to see to our security together," Mikser explained. "This of course provides us with a feeling of certainty and security."
The Estonian minister recalled the behavior of Russia in Georgia in 2008 and the aggression against Ukraine in 2014.
"We can see a kind of pattern in this which demonstrates to us that Russian leaders are ready to use military force against their neighbors to carry out their political ambitions — this definitely cannot be ignored completely," he said.
Mikser also highlighted the need for unity and cooperation to fend of Russian attempts to influence democratic processes in other countries by means of information war.
"This is also a topic which requires a clear awareness and common response from us, and the message that we are not prepared to accept this," the Estonian minister said. "We stand together defending our security interests and the sovereignty of each member state. I believe that this is altogether achievable. Maintaining unity requires work, but we have managed it so far and will manage it in the future as well."
The need to counter non-military interference originating in Russia was also repeatedly stressed by Gabriel, who highlighted intense cooperation between Germany and Estonia in this area.
Estonia, Germany denounce recognition of separatist passports
During the joint press conference following Gabriel and Mikser's meeting on Wednesday, the two foreign ministers denounced Russia's decision to recognize passports issued in separatist Eastern Ukraine.
"This is definitely in direct conflict with the spirit of the Minsk agreements," Mikser said. "The common position of the international community as well as Europe is that in order to solve the conflict, one must respect and restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Steps like this, which attempt to perpetuate the violation and breach of Ukraine' territorial integrity, are definitely not conducive to a solution or consistent with the spirit of these agreements, which were concluded in order to find a solution."
"This is also the position of the German government and also why we criticized the decision of the Russian government to this effect," Gabriel added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a degree in mid-February by which the Russian Federation recognizes identification documents issued in the separatist Donbass region of Eastern Ukraine.
The German government immediately described Moscow's decision as unacceptable.
Editor: Aili Vahtla