TALLINN - The greater the deterrent effect of NATO in Estonia, the smaller the likelihood of Russia posing a threat to Estonia's security, Sven Sakkov, director of the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS), told the "Aktuaalne kaamera" evening news program of Estonia's public broadcaster ERR on Wednesday.
The Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service says in its annual report published Wednesday that the likelihood of Russia attacking Estonia is small; however, it may change if the United States and Russia decide to settle scores elsewhere in the world.
This might be one of the most important points in this year's report, Sakkov noted.
"Indeed, Estonia's security might be jeopardized by circumstances that could emerge elsewhere and have nothing to do with us. Let's say there is a military conflict escalating between the United States and Russia in Syria, and the Russian Federation suffers a defeat -- it will be able to retaliate where it has the opportunity to do so, and that will be against us. Predicting whether and when such a situation emerges is impossible, we don't know how do that," Sakkov said.
"What we can predict is what we know -- the stronger NATO's deterrence here, the less likely Russia is to embark on this path," he said.
While US President Donald Trump has said that he would like to see the budget of European deterrence reduced, Sakkov does not deem it likely to happen.
"Let us consider the perspective and context. The Trump administration has previously increased the corresponding funding by threefold compared with the Obama administration. Secondly, this would be a proposal to the Congress. The Congress is actually very strong, there is two-party support there to strong deterrence activity in Europe. Therefore, I'm not yet overly concerned about this one news item," he said.