The Estonian climate has never been something to be pleased about—a truth that has become a cliché to be applied as much to weather conditions and meteorology as to the security climate. This spring the latter is even lousier than usual in the near neighbourhood.
The eastern neighbour’s aggression in Ukraine, a series of aggressive Russian military exercises behind the border, and promises emanating from the Kremlin about consolidating “Russian space—probably by using armed force, if necessary—have sharply increased the role of so-called “hard” security and military power in the Baltic region. Just four or five years ago, the danger of armed conflict in Europe seemed for many only hypothetical. Some people may have felt that the Russo–Georgian War of 2008 was something distant and possible, but abstract. After all, it was in the Trans-Caucasus, a conflict-torn area across the Black Sea! In 21st-century Europe it is diplomats and diplomacy that do the talking, not machine guns and grenade launchers. Or so it might have seemed…Moscow’s attack on Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea have fundamentally changed the situation. That is why the May issue of Diplomaatia discusses weapons and military force. We try to offer our readers an overview of the health and state of national defence in Estonia as well as in our neighbours, from Finland to Poland—without forgetting Latvia and Lithuania, of course.
Although by its very nature a regional overview acknowledges the current situation of the region in question we do not want to limit ourselves to this. Several articles in this issue therefore aim to set out the lessons that have arisen from Crimea and Ukraine, particularly opportunities for improving the organisation of national defence in the Baltic States. The latter, of course, without any claim to a monopoly on truth.