By establishing a heliport on the island of Gogland, Russia is continuing to militarize the Gulf of Finland, said MP Marko Mihkelson (Reform), deputy chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu.
"The introduction of Gogland as an intermediate base for helicopters is a serious sign that our neighboring country is developing a different and geographically diverse offensive capability in Estonia's immediate vicinity," Mihkelson said. "For example, in recent years, Russia has significantly strengthened the Baltic Fleet, made regular the overflight of strategic bombers over the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea, added a tank capability to the 76th Guards Air Assault Division in Pskov as well as to other similar units, and turned the islands of Bolshoi Tyuters and Maly Tyuters into training grounds for landing invasion practice."
Considering the top speed of attack helicopters is approximately 300 kilometers per hour, it would take just 20 minutes to fly from Gogland to Tallinn, the MP noted.
"An even bigger heliport was established a few years ago near Ostrov, which is 60 kilometers as the crow flies from our southern border," he continued. "These signs, in addition to aggressive exercises, just indicate that Russia is increasing its readiness to conduct an attack in a favorable international situation."
According to the deputy committee chair, Russia's main strategic opponent is NATO, which is why Moscow still sees the Baltic region as the most vulnerable link in putting pressure on or even destroying the alliance.
"There are two main activities that help counter this threat," Mihkelson said. "Estonia must work hard to uphold and strengthen allied relations. The self-isolation that the Ratas government under the leadership of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) is involved in would mean ruin. Second, Russia's steps must be met by adequate deterrents, which can be achieved both by developing our own self-defense capabilities — air and coastal defense are critical — and by qualitatively increasing the presence of NATO allies."
New heliport to be used on permanent basis
Army engineers have built a new military heliport on the Gulf of Finland island of Gogland, the press office of Russia's Western Military District reported on Wednesday.
Gogland is located approximately 55 kilometers from Estonia's northern coast, and 40 kilometers from Finland's southern coast.
According to TASS, which cited the Russian military district, the heliport was established during special tactical drills.
The newly constructed heliport includes five helipads and necessary related infrastructure: a command and control post, a weather station, a fueling center, a maintenance post and special lighting. The new heliport is equipped to receive all types of transport and combat helicopters operational in Russia's Western Military District.
According to TASS, the military intends to use the heliport on a permanent basis.
Editor: Aili Vahtla