Estonians voted Sunday in an election marked by jitters over a militarily resurgent Russia and a popular pro-Kremlin party, with the security conscious centre-left coalition tipped for a return to power. Moscow’s annexation of Crimea last year and its meddling in eastern Ukraine have galvanised the European Union, including this eurozone member of 1.3 million people, a quarter of whom are ethnic Russian. Military manoeuvres by Moscow on Estonia’s border days ahead of the vote further stoked deep concerns in Europe that the Kremlin could attempt to destabilise countries that were in its orbit during Soviet times. NATO is countering the moves by boosting defences on its eastern flank with a spearhead force of 5,000 troops and command centres in six formerly communist members of the Alliance, including one in Estonia.
“If they (the Russians) come in here, Estonia can’t do anything… I’m not sure NATO will help us out,” Pyotr Sirotkin, a 25-year-old graduate student at Tallinn University, told AFP as he cast his ballot in the capital. “Let’s hope that it will not go that far. But the situation between USA and Russia will change totally if the USA comes here and defends us from Russia.”
Prime Minister Taavi Roivas, at 35 the EU’s youngest head of government, is tipped to hold onto power. He has joined a chorus of Baltic leaders demanding more NATO troops, hardware and air patrols to counter Moscow’s heightened military moves.
Analysts expect Roivas’s centrist Reform party to renew its coalition with the Social Democrats, buttressed in the 101-seat parliament by a smaller conservative party.
Full Article: Estonians vote under shadow of resurgent Russia – Yahoo News.