With the war in Ukraine fully under way, other nations are becoming increasingly fearful of Putin’s Russia. One such country is Estonia, home to one of Europe’s largest (and least integrated) Russian-speaking populations.
Estonia, which used to be part of the Soviet Union and has been a member of the EU since 2003, together with its neighbor Latvia are the only NATO countries to share a land border with Russia. It was no coincidence then that in February 2022 the military base in Ämari saw substantial reinforcements with a view to defending NATO and its northeastern borders, a deployment that has been gathering pace in recent years.
In this part of Europe the new Iron Curtain follows the borders of the Baltic states and since 2014, the year Russia annexed Crimea, Estonia has feared possible territorial claims from Russia. As a result, Estonian military exercises along the border have intensified, as has civilian membership of voluntary militias to defend against Russian aggression. “We’ve been occupied by Soviets once,” explains a corporal of the Estonian Army, “we don’t want it to happen again. It’s a deterrent. As the Romans said: if you want peace, prepare for war”.
( 2016 )