Security of Estonia

Russian military aircraft violates the Estonian air space

On 18 May, an aircraft of the Russian navy violated the Estonian air space.

The plane, a Tupolev 154, entered the Estonian air space without permission near the island of Vaindloo in northeastern Estonia, in the middle of the Gulf of Finland.

The Estonian Defence Forces said in a statement that the plane spent less than a minute in the Estonian air space. Its transponder was turned on and the plane had a flight plan. It didn’t have any contact with the Estonian air traffic controllers.

According to the statement, this was the first violation of the Estonian air space by Russia in 2019.

The Estonian foreign ministry summoned the Russian ambassador in Estonia and handed him a diplomatic note.

Vaindloo is a small island located in the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea. It belongs to Estonia and it is the northernmost point of the country. It’s located 26 kilometres (16 miles) north of the Estonian mainland. The island is notable for its functioning lighthouse that was built in 1871.

Russian planes frequently violate the Estonian air space, especially near the island of Vaindloo. At least four violations happened in 2018.

The Tupolev 154 aircraft is a Soviet-made three-engine medium-range narrow-body airplane designed in the mid-1960s. It has a range of 5,280 kilometres (3,280 miles).

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Cover: Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-154M (photo: Kirill Naumenko/Wikipedia).

Study: the Baltics could stop Russia with a guerrilla army

According to a recent study by RAND Corporation, a US-based think tank, creating a guerrilla army in the Baltics may be an option to stop Russia from invading.

The think tank points out in its study that even though Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania wouldn’t stand a chance in a conventional war with Russia, creating a small guerrilla army might make it so indigestible as to deter Russia from invading.

The guerrilla army would cost USD125 million and it would consist of 1,000 combat and non-violent action cells, as part of a dual nation-in-arms strategy.

One part of the dual strategy would be “total defence”, involving all of civil society in non-violent resistance and homeland security. The other would comprise “unconventional warfare”, which relies on special operations and guerrilla tactics. The result is a broad-spectrum resistance ranging from armed attacks by special forces and cut-off regular army troops turned guerrilla, to spreading propaganda leaflets and tweeting on social media.

Cheaper, low-tech warfare

“TD and UW can enhance deterrence and, if deterrence should fail, can deny an adversary an easy victory by making an occupation costlier to the invading forces,” the RAND study says. “In particular, the Baltic states have a significant history of resistance activities against invading and occupying forces during and after World War II, and preparing for resistance is part of the defence strategies of all Baltic states.”

According to RAND, the most valuable weapons in the strategy are not anti-tank missiles or land mines, but the cheaper, low-tech stuff of warfare: night-vision devices, secure mobile communications, computers, video cameras, all-terrain mobility vehicles and small arms.

“A robust technology initiative to equip resistance cells in all three Baltic states would require approximately $125 million in initial equipping cost, plus training, operations, and maintenance funding,” RAND said. “Such an initiative could be supported by national defence budgets implemented over several years, and is also scalable.”

Need to be tied to a conventional campaign within weeks or months

The study also noted that the dual strategy efforts “alone would be insufficient to defend against a full-scale Russian military attack in the Baltic states. In light of the Baltic experience after World War II – when resistance activities in all three countries collapsed once it became clear that the West was not going to liberate them from Soviet occupation – TD/UW efforts need to be tied to a conventional campaign, including a NATO counterattack within weeks or months (not years or decades), to be viable contributors to defence and deterrence.”

RAND Corporation is an American non-profit global policy think tank, financed by the US government and private endowment. The organisation has about 1,700 employees and its headquarters is in Santa Monica, CA, with offices all over the world. According to Wikipedia, 32 recipients of the Nobel Prize, primarily in the fields of economics and physics, have been involved or associated with RAND at some point in their career.

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Cover: Members of the Estonian Defence League testing the Estonian-made Milrem vehicle (the image is illustrative).

Estonia’s foreign intelligence: Russia the main external threat

According to the annual report of the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service, the main external threat to Estonia is Russia and its behaviour.

“The main external security threat for Estonia arises from Russia’s behaviour, which undermines the international order,” the 2019 annual report says. “Russia conducts its foreign policy by demonstrating its military force, by using the dependence of other states on Russia’s energy carriers and by conducting cyber attacks and influence operations using false information and other ‘soft’ tools.”

“Ukraine will be the main target of those measures this year, but Russia will not hesitate to use them even against its ally, Belarus. Countries in the European Union and NATO are not fully protected from Russia’s aggressive activities, either – it has only been a year since Russia used a chemical weapon on the territory of the United Kingdom,” the report continues.

Can’t rule out surprises by an authoritarian regime

According to the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service, Russia continues to develop and train its armed forces for a large-scale war against NATO.

“Even though the likelihood of a worst-case scenario is slim, surprises arranged by its authoritarian regime cannot be excluded,” the report asserts.

“The Kremlin’s foreign policy is affected by domestic problems, including increasing popular discontent and tensions within the elite. A strong military force and a leadership that feels threatened may prove a dangerous combination. Russia’s foreign and domestic policy is dictated by the authorities’ fear of changes, which might pull the rug from under them. Therefore, the regime regards domestic opposition as a dangerous enemy. According to information available to the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service, Russia has practised the use of its armed forces units against internal protesters,” the report goes on.

Destroying the unity of the Western countries

The intelligence service also says that Russia’s goal is to destroy the unity of the Western countries. “To achieve that, Russia is prepared to get involved in other countries’ domestic policy. The issue of influence activities deserves particular attention this year, as EU member states are going to elect representatives to the European Parliament.”

The task of the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service is to protect Estonia from external security threats. It collects and analyses intelligence and forwards the collected information to the state leadership to assist in its defence and security policy-making tasks.

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Cover: Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and the Chief of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, at Luzhsky range, 18 September 2017 (the image is illustrative/Wikimedia Commons).

Estonia awards 600 British troops for their service

Estonia awarded mission medals to nearly 600 British troops from the Yorkshire regiment, currently serving with the NATO enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia, for their excellent service with the battle group stationed in Tapa.

The Estonian minister of defence, Jüri Luik, thanked the soldiers from the Yorkshire regiment, who will soon be completing its service in Estonia, for their service and said that the soldiers from Estonia and the United Kingdom share strong historical ties, the roots of which stretch back to the days of the Estonia’s War of Independence, when the Royal Navy played a key role in helping Estonia secure its freedom.

“The co-operation with the 1st Yorks has set the bar to the new level. You have been described as straightforward and down-to-earth soldiers, who are very good at finding common ground with the Estonian counterparts and eager to learn and practice the tactics in an environment different from your home,” Luik said and expressed hope that the lessons learned in Estonia will also help with the development of the Fighting in Forest and Woodlands Doctrine, a task the troops were given before the deployment.

Defending Estonia

“For myself and my people, you are here in the name of defending my country, and, if necessary, you are ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with your Estonian colleagues when confronting the enemy. I know that you served well here and I would like to thank you for that,” the commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, Major General Martin Herem added in his speech and, as a sign of appreciation, presented the Flag of the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces to Lieutenant Colonel Tom Miller, the commander of the battle group.

During the ceremony, nearly 600 UK troops were each presented with a medal in recognition of their exemplary service and outstanding cooperation as members of the battle group.

The NATO enhanced Forward Presence battle group, currently comprised of UK and Belgian troops, began serving at Tapa in April 2017 and is a part of the Estonian Defence Forces 1st Infantry Brigade. In March 2019, the unit from the UK that is currently serving in Estonia will be rotated by the King’s Royal Hussars, whose arrival will also be accompanied by more heavy equipment, including tanks.

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Cover: The award ceremony on 21 February 2019 (photo by Karl Heinrich Arras/Estonian Defence Forces).

UK to deploy deadly Apache helicopters in Estonia

The UK defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, has announced that the British Army’s Wildcat and Apache helicopters will be deployed in Estonia in 2019.

Williamson made the announcement at a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels.

The British Army aircraft will provide aviation training opportunities to NATO allies during Estonia’s annual military exercise, Spring Storm, as well as to the UK-led battlegroup based in the Estonian town of Tapa.

Reinforcing the alliance’s deterrence

“The helicopter deployment will boost our contingent to around 1,000 personnel in the Baltics, making the UK the largest contributor to NATO’s enhanced forward presence – further reinforcing the alliance’s deterrence and defence posture,” Williamson said in a statement.

At the NATO headquarters in Brussels, the British defence secretary underlined the UK’s support. “Whenever the call comes from NATO, the UK has always been ready to reach into its full spectrum of capabilities and offer its support. That’s why we’re bolstering training in Estonia by deploying some of the world’s most advanced helicopters to the country.”

Deadly chopper

The AH-64 Apache was developed by the American aviation company, Boeing. According to it, Apache “is the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopter”. It can operate in all weathers, day or night and detect, classify and prioritise up to 256 potential targets in a matter of seconds. Apache carries a mix of weapons including rockets, Hellfire missiles and a 30mm chain gun.

The AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat is an improved version of the British-developed Westland Super Lynx military helicopter designed to serve in the roles of battlefield utility, search and rescue and anti-surface warfare. In the British military, common variants are operated by both the Royal Navy and British Army.

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Cover: A British Army Air Corps Apache attack helicopter takes off during an exercise in the UK (courtesy of British Army). 

The Estonian defence forces to receive new equipment and better pay

The Estonian ministry of defence has approved its development plan for 2020-2023 that, according to the ministry, will raise the country’s combat capabilities and readiness.

The minister of defence, Jüri Luik, said in a statement that in the centre of the development plan are the people who serve in the defence forces.

“In 2018, we, together with the chairman of the defence forces, decided to raise the average pay of the active duty military from 30% to 33% above the Estonian average salary,” Luik noted.

The development plan improves the leadership and communication capabilities of the defence forces, increases the combat support capabilities and will provide equipment for the newly-established Cyber Command.

Additional aircraft and vessels

The Estonian Air Force is to receive two PZL M28 Skytruck transport aircraft in 2019. The two aircraft, built in Poland in 2009, are a gift from the United States. Currently, the country’s air force operates just one jet trainer, the Czech-made Aero L-39 Albatros, and four Robinson R44 helicopters.

The Estonian Navy is to obtain two new fast vessels and mobile maritime surveillance radars to ensure the survivability of maritime surveillance in wartime.

Another priority in the development plan is the Estonian Defence League. By 2023, the league will receive an allotment of €43 million a year.

The development plan also allocates fund into equipment – for example, the ministry is planning to purchase night vision goggles and new Kevlar vests. In addition to replacing hand and machine guns, the plan also calls for replacing anti-tank howitzers.

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Cover: A PZL M28 Skytruck transport aircraft of the US Air Force Special Operations Command (US Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samuel King Jr./the image is illustrative/Wikimedia Commons).

Andres Kasekamp: Why Narva is not next

Since the annexation of Crimea, the question of whether “Narva is next?” has been on analysts’ lips; Andres Kasekamp, Professor of Baltic Politics at the University of Tartu, argues otherwise.*

Since the annexation of Crimea, the question of whether “Narva is next?” has been on analysts’ lips. The international media has descended on Narva to ask whether “little green men” could suddenly appear there. A border town 150 km from St Petersburg with an overwhelmingly Russian-speaking population, Narva is a symbol for the larger Baltic question and the future of NATO. A chorus of prominent analysts and public figures, including the former NATO Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, have warned of the “high probability” of future Russian action against the Baltic states.

Indeed, the evidence of increasing military activity in the Baltic Sea region as a spillover from the Ukrainian crisis is abundant. Russian air force planes have been flying dangerously with transponders switched off, and Russian warships have made their presence felt. In response, NATO has beefed-up its air policing mission and increased troop deployment for exercises to reassure the Baltic states and deter Russia.

First of all, the Baltic states are members of NATO and the EU

Although at first glance there might be some superficial similarities to the Ukrainian case, the differences are clearly more significant. First of all, the Baltic states are members of NATO and the EU, and thus Russian action against them would have immeasurably graver consequences.

The success of the Crimean operation depended on surprise. Few expected or planned for Ukraine being militarily attacked by Russia. Russian preparations were not detected (or at least correctly understood). Russia was able to use its military bases already existing on Ukrainian territory. Top Ukrainian commanders defected to the Russian side. Russian actions exploited a unique post-revolutionary situation with confusion about the legitimacy of interim authorities in Kyiv. The border with Russia in eastern Ukraine was lengthy, porous, and weakly guarded.

Estonia has a state capacity to respond immediately

In contrast to Ukraine, Estonia has a state capacity to respond immediately. Estonia is a well-governed state and one of the least corrupt in Europe. The fact the Ukrainian forces did not open fire in Crimea encouraged Putin to believe that the same could be easily accomplished in eastern Ukraine. However, when the Ukrainian forces resisted, they succeeded in winning back territory until Russian forces intervened directly.

Estonia capitulated meekly to the USSR in 1940 in the vain hope of not provoking Moscow. The lesson drawn for contemporary Estonian defence doctrine is to always offer military resistance. The commander of the Estonian Defence Forces has stated that the first “little green man” to appear on Estonian soil will be shot immediately.

“The commander of the Estonian Defence Forces has stated that the first ‘little green man’ to appear on Estonian soil will be shot immediately.”

Hybrid war is not something new for the Baltic states. They have already experienced elements of hybrid war – cyber attacks, economic pressure, disinformation campaigns. Even the Soviet-sponsored failed communist insurrection of 1924 in Estonia had many common features with events in 2014, as did the Soviet annexation in 1940.

A key to Russian operations in Ukraine has been deniability of direct military involvement. Thus the separatists claim to have obtained their Russian arms and equipment from overrun Ukrainian bases – an impossibility in Estonia since Estonian forces use only NATO standard equipment.

Narva has always indisputably belonged to Estonia

Putin does not consider Ukraine to be a genuine nation, but part of the larger Russian nation (and many Russians agree with him). However, even Putin understands that Estonia, although small, is completely distinct. There is no historical territorial bone of contention; Narva has always indisputably belonged to Estonia.

Perhaps the greatest concern has not been the military, but ethnic factor. Putin has justified aggression against Ukraine with the need to “protect” Russian speakers. This is a dangerous fallback to the pre-1945 world, where dictators claimed the right to change borders by force to bring co-ethnics into their fold. Putin’s reasoning is a dramatic escalation from the spurious excuse, used six years earlier in South Ossetia, of protecting Russian citizens.

Russophones in Ukraine were swayed by the demonstration of might and a rational calculation to side with the victor. Material considerations also played a role; for instance, pensions are higher in Russia than in Ukraine. Such incentives do not apply in the Baltic case since the standard of living is higher than in Russia. This is especially evident in the border areas. The Pskov oblast, bordering Estonia and Latvia, is one of the poorest in the entire Russian Federation.

“The Pskov oblast, bordering Estonia and Latvia, is one of the poorest in the entire Russian Federation.”

People in Narva regularly cross the bridge to Ivangorod and know very well for themselves that life is more miserable on the Russian side of the border. Narva’s supermarkets became a popular destination for consumers from St Petersburg after Putin slapped countersanctions on EU agricultural produce. Wages are lower and unemployment higher than in Tallinn, but Narva’s economic indicators are similar to those of other peripheral Estonian towns.

Even russophones enjoy the right to freely travel and work within the EU

While most Estonian russophones support the annexation of Crimea, it would be wrong to jump to the conclusion that they would desire similar Russian intervention at home. Indeed, the images of carnage in eastern Ukraine are a powerful argument in favour of maintaining peace.

“Indeed, the images of carnage in eastern Ukraine are a powerful argument in favour of maintaining peace.”

Rather than asking residents their opinion about Crimea or Putin, it would be more insightful to ask whether they would prefer rubles to euros or the Russian healthcare system to the Estonian one. Even those Estonian russophones who are non-citizens enjoy the right to freely travel and work within the EU, a privilege that would be sorely missed. Although there is a sharp contrast between Estonian and Russian-speakers on support for NATO and perception of a threat from Moscow, more importantly, there is little difference regarding the will to defend their country.

“Rather than asking residents their opinion about Crimea or Putin, it would be more insightful to ask whether they would prefer rubles to euros or the Russian healthcare system to the Estonian one.”

Previously, it was believed that the integration of the Russian minority would be resolved by time – Soviet nostalgia would fade with the passing of the older generation. The first warning that this assumption was false came with the conflict over the relocation of the Tallinn Soviet war monument (“the Bronze soldier”) in 2007.

Russia has instrumentalised its “compatriots” in order to undermine societal integration and to maintain a sense of grievance and marginalisation. The conflict in Ukraine has been accompanied by an unprecedented level and sophistication of hostile information warfare. Most Estonians and Russophones live in separate information spaces, with Russian TV being the prime source for the latter. The Baltic states were among those who proposed that the EU take countermeasures to combat Russian media falsifications. The Estonian government has decided to fund a new Russian language TV channel – not to provide counter-propaganda, but to strengthen the identity of the local community.

Is Putin willing to die for Narva?

Some analysts have argued that it is not important what people in Narva actually think, because Russia could ignite trouble simply by inserting a few outsiders.

A related question is whether NATO allies would be willing to “die for Narva”. The logic of this hypothetical argument is that Putin’s ultimate aim is not territorial expansion, but dividing the West by undermining NATO and the EU. An operation limited to Narva could leave NATO in a dilemma of how to respond, especially since the Russian military policy foresees the “de-escalation” of conflicts by nuclear means, ie threatening to carry out a limited tactical number strike in order to convince NATO to refrain from coming to the assistance of an ally under attack.

Andrei Piontkovsky has turned the question around and asked whether Putin is willing to die for Narva. Such a gamble obviously wouldn’t be worth it, but Putin has demonstrated that he is much less risk-averse than Western leaders. Visiting Tallinn in September 2014, US President Barack Obama stated that the “the defence of Tallinn and Riga and Vilnius is just as important as the defence of Berlin and Paris and London.” In order for the validity of this statement not to be tested, deterrence must credible.

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Cover: Narva Castle. * This article was originally published on 16 June 2015 and lightly edited on 24 January 2019.

Estonians believe their country is protected – survey

According to a public opinion survey, the Estonian people’s stance towards life has improved, they feel the country is protected and national defence is well organised.

The results of the survey, carried out in the autumn of 2018, have revealed that in the opinion of two thirds of the respondents, life has changed for the better or remains the same. There is a perception that the security situation in Estonia is more positive than in the world as a whole, and Estonians consider the most important security guarantee to be NATO and the defensive will of the people.

“I commend the high defensive will of the people and readiness to defend their country,” the minister of defence, Jüri Luik, said in a statement. “I am also pleased to see that there is trust in the organisation of national defence and towards the activities of our allies and NATO.”

According to the survey, more than half of the respondents consider the biggest threats in the near future to be an organised attack on Estonia’s national information systems, ie a cyber-attack (67%), the proliferation of fake news (65%) and interference by a foreign country in Estonia’s politics or influencing the economy for its own benefit (58%).

Over three quarters support NATO membership

The Estonian people consider the membership in NATO, the defensive will of the people and the development of Estonia’s independent defensive capability to be the most important security guarantees.

More than three quarters of the country’s residents support Estonia’s membership in NATO, with support having risen by 5% in comparison with the same type of survey carried out during the spring. The Estonian people believe that in the event of the eruption of a military conflict, NATO would provide military aid to Estonia or that membership in the alliance would prevent a military conflict entirely. A total of 72% of the population support the presence of NATO forces in Estonia.

In the event of an attack on Estonia, approximately 80% of respondents believe armed resistance is important, and 60% are ready to participate in defence related activity in the event of a military attack.

The defence forces are well trusted

The completion of conscript service for young men is supported by 92% of residents, with 78% supporting voluntary conscript service for women.

The Estonian people continue to provide a highly favourable assessment regarding the development of independent defensive capability. A total of 80% of respondents wish to continue the current reserve army based national defence model.

The Estonian Defence Forces and the Defence League are trusted by three quarters of the residents of Estonia. In the opinion of 70% of residents, Estonia has done a good job in developing its national defence.

The survey was ordered by the ministry of defence and carried out by Turu-uuringute AS.

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Images courtesy of the Estonian Defence Forces, except where stated.

A Belgian armoured manoeuvring unit is to be deployed to Estonia

In the beginning of 2019, a Belgian armoured manoeuvring unit of 200 troops will be stationed in Estonia; the troops will join the NATO battle group stationed in Tapa.

According to the Estonian ministry of defence, the Belgians will be stationed in Estonia for five months, after which they will pass the baton on to the French army.

The Estonian defence minister, Jüri Luik, said that the Belgian government’s decision to send its troops to Estonia shows the fact that even small countries can equally contribute to NATO.

“As small countries, we understand each other’s security concerns better as all of our security depends on the strength of NATO,” he said in a statement.

The Belgian troops will be armed with army battle equipment and SPIKE anti-tank missiles, 120-millimetre calibre mortars, and they also have their own pioneer and battle support unit.

The Belgians will be taking over from the Danes who are currently stationed in Tapa; the first Belgian troops should arrive in Estonia in December 2018.

In the spring of 2019, the Belgians – and also the French who will be replacing them – will take part in the annual military exercise, Spring Storm (Kevadtorm).

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Cover: Belgian soldiers with assault rifles (the image is illustrative/Wikimedia Commons).

Russian economist: Putin more likely to move against Belarus, not Estonia

Vladislav Inozemtsev, a Russian economist, said that even though many in the West believe Russia will in the future seek to occupy part of one of the Baltic countries as it occupied part of Ukraine, the more likely scenario is it’ll seek to absorb Belarus rather than attack Narva, Estonia.

Those who predict a Baltic scenario, Inozemtsev says, assume that Putin will try to take part of a country rather than a whole one and will seek to seize Narva because Estonia won’t be able to defend itself and “NATO will not risk coming to its help”, thus undermining the Western alliance.

This Narva notion, Inozemtsev says, “directly comes from the models of Crimea and the Donbass”. Those who predict it, point to Ukraine whenever they begin to talk about Russia; “but about eight years ago with similar insistence all of them spoke about Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Georgia which lost them.”

These analysts forget there was a fundamental difference between the Georgian and the Ukrainian case. In the first, Russia “completed the detachment from a neighbouring country of two territories which had declared their independence, were recognised by Moscow and were transformed into client states”.

Enhancing the union by annexing Belarus

In the second, “Russia intervened in a region where before it did so there were no signs of civil war, established control over it, and after an illegitimate referendum officially included it within its borders. Moreover, both ‘losing sides’, in contrast to Latvia and Estonia, were not members of NATO or the EU.”

“It seems to me,” Inozemtsev says, “that [the Russian president, Vladimir Putin,] in order to stir up patriotic passions inside Russia could do so by occupying an entire country, preferably part of ‘the Russian world’ but still not included in Western alliances. And now there is only one candidate for that – Belarus.”

There are some obvious reasons for that conclusion, he notes. Belarus is already part of a union state, and Putin could easily promote the annexation of Belarus as simply about enhancing the union. Many Russians would be enthusiastic, and NATO wouldn’t respond forcefully, Inozemtsev asserts.

There is another reason Putin will likely choose Belarus as his next target, the Russian economist says. It will simplify his remaining in power. He won’t need to change the constitution and create a new set of institutions. Instead, the Kremlin leader can remain in office because he will be head of a new “union” state.

“The latest events in ‘the Minsk direction’,” Inozemtsev continues, “appear extremely worrisome.” Putin has sent a potential pro-consul as ambassador, and he has signalled he won’t continue to fund Lukashenka unless the latter moves in his direction, something that would make absorption easier if perhaps less necessary.

The West is “clinically incapable” of calculating Moscow’s moves

In response to Moscow’s moves, “Minsk has begun a broad purge of its security organs to remove all those with any ties to Moscow, issued declarations about the inviolability of Belarusian sovereignty and accelerated the process of ‘Belarusianisation’ of all sides of local life.”

And while far from all Belarusians support Lukashenka’s regime, that doesn’t mean “they are prepared to replace his power with an occupation regime”. They would likely rally around him against Moscow but lack the power to block what Putin most likely will try to carry out.

Because Belarusian elections come in 2020, Moscow needs to begin acting somewhat sooner; and “it seems to me”, Inozemtsev says, “that there is every basis for expecting a sharp escalation around Belarus already next year”. If that happens, it is very unlikely that the West in general and Europe in particular will be ready and have made plans.

The West at present seems “clinically incapable of calculating Moscow’s possible moves and thus will only be surprised by what happens”. That will remain the case if analysts stay trapped in the notion that Putin will move on Narva when he is far more likely to move on Minsk and seek to absorb all of Belarus.

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This article is a lightly edited version of the article originally published by Paul Goble on his Window on Eurasia blog. Cover: Regional map (Google).

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