TALLINN - Russia has been rehearsing hostile activities against NATO for years, which is why the recent simulation of missile attacks against Estonia is nothing out of the ordinary, according to the Estonian Ministry of Defense, however, the ministry nonetheless takes the situation seriously, Postimees reports.
"The security situation in Europe remains very serious because of Russia's war against Ukraine; however, there is currently no direct threat against Estonia. There are signs of the Russian Federation's rhetoric and activities escalating towards the Baltic states ahead of NATO's Madrid summit. Russia has been using similar rhetoric against NATO for years," head of the department for strategic communication at the Ministry of Defense Thomas Mell said.
Mell noted that the Russian Federation's rhetorical escalation against Lithuania over sanctions implemented by the European Union already months ago is unjustified and deliberate action against Lithuania.
"We cannot currently confirm there being any links between the accusatory rhetoric against Lithuania, simulations of missile attacks targeted at the Baltic states and the border violations committed in the Baltics by the Russian Federations' helicopters, but the coincidence in time between these events is noteworthy," he said.
In the Defense Ministry's assessment, such an escalation ahead of the NATO Madrid summit to be held at the end of June is a clear sign that strong decisions are needed from Madrid with regard to strengthening the alliance's defense posture in the area.
"In addition to political statements, concrete military steps are needed towards strengthening NATO's defense posture on the eastern flank to the extent that it sends a clear message that attacking any of the NATO member states is unthinkable," the ministry said.
Secretary general of the Ministry of Defense Kusti Salm told the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti on Tuesday that, according to NATO sources, Russia has been simulating missile attacks against Estonian territory in the course of an exercise in recent days. In addition, armed Russian helicopters have committed border violations in the Baltic states.
The Estonian ministry deems the situation very serious.
"Russia thinks we don't deserve to be independent. Their recent operations and strategic communication support this conclusion," Salm said.
The ministry's secretary general underscored, however, that it is safe to live in Estonia.
"It is the task of NATO to ensure this for every citizen. The defense structure must serve the purpose of repelling a potential enemy from the first minute and enable the alliance to defend even the first centimeter of Estonian territory," he said.