Narva, an Estonian town on the Russian border, is tired of hearing it is next. “There simply couldn’t be a repeat of Crimea here,” says Vladislav Ponjatovski, head of a local trade union. Mr Ponjatovski, an ethnic Russian, helped launch a Narva autonomy referendum in 1993. Now he would never consider it. Today’s Estonia offers higher living standards and membership of NATO and the European Union. Nobody in Narva longs to be in Ivangorod, the Russian town over the river. The fear that the Kremlin may test NATO by stirring up trouble in the Baltics haunts the West. Britain’s defence secretary, Michael Fallon, says there is already a “real and present danger”. Russia has violated Baltic airspace and harassed ships in the Baltic Sea. Russian agents crossed the border and kidnapped an Estonian intelligence officer last autumn. The new security environment is “not just bad weather, it’s climate change,” says Lieutenant General Riho Terras, head of the Estonian Defence Forces.
As one of the five NATO members with a land border with Russia, Estonia must prepare for the storm. NATO has pitched in with “Operation Atlantic Resolve”, sending 150 American troops to each of the three Baltic states and Poland. Air policing missions in the region have been beefed up. A rapid response force is in the works.
National security loomed over Estonia’s general election on March 1st, when the ruling Reform Party beat its pro-Russian rival. The Centre Party, which has close ties to Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party and relies on the ethnic Russians who make up a quarter of Estonia’s population, came second. Taavi Roivas, the prime minister, has ruled out co-operating with it, and will instead form a coalition with his current partner, the Social Democrats, and another party.
Full Article: Estonia’s election: On the border | The Economist.