Defense minister: No reason to worry about Russian heliport on Gogland

Defence Minister Jüri Luik (Isamaa).
Defence Minister Jüri Luik (Isamaa). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

A newly built heliport on the island of Gogland in the Gulf of Finland includes five helipads, and will reportedly be equipped to receive all types of transport and combat helicopters currently operational in Russia's Western Military District, media reported earlier this week. Defense minister Jüri Luik (Isamaa) told ERR on Friday that the heliport is no cause for concern.

The Russian move to set up a helicopter base on the small island in the Gulf of Finland doesn't change the overall security situation in the area, Luik told ERR.

"The main danger to us are land-based helicopters," Luik said. "On the other side of the border, there are hundreds of helicopters, which in the overall threat scenario are definitely more dangerous to us than anything else."

Vladimir Juškin, director of the Baltic Center for Russian Studies, as well as retired Gen. Ants Laaneots, a member of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu, both said that they also believe that Russia's new heliport, which is located not far from either the Finnish or Estonian coasts, does not pose a military threat to Estonia.

"Rather, it is Russia's demonstration of power in the Baltic Sea," Juškin said. "'We want to show that the Baltic Sea is our inland sea and we will do what want, and you will simply look at it.' I do not believe that it is preparation for something bigger."

According to Laaneots, the Russians' decision should be seen above all else as their desire to strengthen the protection and security of the Russian security area bordering the Baltic Sea.

Luik shares this view, saying that the Russian move was intended to rattle and irritate other stakeholders in the area. Meanwhile, interest in Gogland has been up already since Putin visited the island earlier this summer, Luik said.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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