December 21, 2019

A View from the Frontline: Estonian Experience

Estonia's Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (L to R), France's President Emmanuel Macron and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May visit NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) battle group in Tapa, Estonia September 29, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
Estonia's Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (L to R), France's President Emmanuel Macron and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May visit NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) battle group in Tapa, Estonia September 29, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

“The Baltic states are where NATO is at its weakest and Russia, its strongest,” ICDS Director Sven Sakkov provides a sobering view of the threats and developments from the frontline states of NATO’s Eastern Flank in the recent NATO Defense College Research Paper “The Alliance Five Years after Crimea: Implementing the Wales Summit Pledges”.

Drawing from the Estonian experience, with references to the other Baltic states, the author provides historical context and examples of current Russian aggression in the region. While acknowledging important progress made by both NATO and the US in particular, Sakkov draws attention to continued discrepancies in burden sharing among the Allies and poses the question of whether this is sustainable under current US leadership.

“The year 2014 was a tipping point in NATO’s approach to the Eastern Flank. Having observed a culmination of destabilizing events in Ukraine that included the Maidan protests and ousting of Viktor Yanukovych, a Russian sponsored civil war in the Donbass, and the illegal annexation of Crimea, not to mention the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, the Allies came together in the Welsh cities of Newport and Cardiff to discuss how the Alliance should respond. Shortly after NATO’s Wales Summit on 4-5 September 2014, observers described the event as a “watershed moment”. Looking back on the past five years, this description still holds up,” writes Marc Ozawa, editor of the research paper.

The publication includes following articles:

Section 1: Deterrence and defense 

  • Karl-Heinz Kamp: NATO’s nuclear resurgence
  • Christian Leuprecht and Jayson Derow: Conceptions of deterrence: the eFP’s political and military posture
  • William Spensr Tessman, Daniel Marzluff and Murray Guptill: Maximizing the maritime: a call for naval investment
  • Greg Smith: NATO adapting: a return to peer competition
  • Sven Sakkov: A view from the frontline: Estonian experience

Section 2: Emerging security threats

  • Michael Rühle and Clare Roberts: NATO’s response to hybrid threats
  • Carlo Disma: The evolving cyber warfare landscape
  • Alexandra-Maria Bocse: NATO’s organizational adaptation: responding to energy security concerns

Section 3: Burden sharing

  • Stefan Markowski: Equity of defence burden sharing by NATO member states: an economic perspective
  • Katarina Đjokić: Allies’ defence expenditures: a rocky ride to compliance

Click here to find out more and download the publication.

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