Sunday, February 26, 2017

Estonia in the Crosshairs

Estonia is reaching out to their Russian-speaking minority out of worries that alienation could make them vulnerable to Russian propaganda or provide a pretext for Russian intervention. That effort can only go so far in deterring Russia.

This is good:

Worried that divided loyalties in its largely Russian-speaking border areas could lay Estonia open to conflicts like those in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Estonia wants to better integrate its Russian speaking minority.

Estonia and the other Baltic nations look at Russia's actions in Ukraine and fear they could easily be overrun by their huge neighbor. By reaching out to his country's Russian-speakers, Ratas is hoping to bolster national unity and remove a possible pretext for Russian intervention.

Latvia and Lithuania have smaller minority populations. And remember that the Russian-speakers are there because the Soviet Union pushed colonists into their conquests to try to Russify the population to cement control. So Russia likely still thinks of those people as a tool of Mother Russia no matter what the locals think now living in a Western state.

So even with a 100% successful outreach program, Estonia won't deter Russia. No, Russia will simply lie and haul out former Estonians who live in Russia to be the face of an astro-turfed revolt that begs Russia to protect their poor brethren locked in the Estonian Hell hole.

Russia does that.

And Russia could carry out a small conventional invasion with "volunteers" to grab Narva and challenge NATO to do something.

Putin's personally loyal National Guard might be just the source of units for that kind of mission.

We need to be prepared to counter-attack--without leveling Narva--and defeat such an attack designed to break NATO as much as to grab chunks of Estonia.

And while Estonia reaching out to their Russian-speaking people won't prevent Russia from claiming to save them, that effort will make Estonia more capable of resisting an actual attack.