March 17, 2017

Estonia and Estonians in the Strategic Confrontation of the Cold War – Part II

In the previous part, we briefly explored the role of Estonia and the Baltic States in the confrontation of intelligence organisations in the first years of the Cold War. We realised that the Baltic States were an important region for Western countries, since here contact with the Soviet Union was more immediate than in most other areas. The Iron Curtain was porous, the Baltic Sea was not only a barrier but also a connection route, which was cunningly used by Estonian and Latvian refugees, but also by expatriates cooperating with Western intelligence organisations. In the 1950s, trips across the sea petered out and probably stopped, and human intelligence was replaced with radio intelligence, aerial observations and, from the 1960s, satellite intelligence.

Therefore, it can be generalised that while the Cold War confrontation began to crystallise on the “central front” as a result of events happening in Central Europe in 1947–1949 (foundation of Cominform, coup in Czechoslovakia, Berlin crisis etc.), the Baltics were a periphery, in military-strategic terms a “flank”. But at the same time it was a bloc-to-bloc contact zone, as suggested by the German historian Bernd Lemke in the recent collection of articles Periphery or Contact Zone? The NATO flanks 1961 to 2013.1 The Baltics have now moved from the periphery to centre stage in military-strategic terms. NATO may fail in Afghanistan and Syria and remain standing, but should Russia attack the Baltics and succeed, NATO will crumble. Therefore the “central front” passes along the border of the Baltic States and Russia, and naturally, NATO’s military infrastructure—which remains stuck in the Cold War era (e.g. Ramstein air base in Rhineland)—should correspond to this.
At the end of WWII, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had transformed from security policy subjects into objects as occupied and annexed states. During the inter-war period, Estonia was not able to construct significant national defence. Without a credible regional military alliance or protection from a great power, the Baltics could not be made into a buffer zone, a cordon sanitaire between two regional great states—the USSR and Germany—as Western strategists had hoped in the early 1920s. Therefore, it can be said that the price of independence was to become a power vacuum in the competition between great powers, and as the balance of power collapsed, Estonia and the other Baltic States became a battleground in World War II.
After World War II, Estonia could not influence its security policy, but generally speaking it can be said that Estonia’s security was more stable than it had been during the independence period. In the case of a possible war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact allies, the Baltics were unlikely to become a battleground—the main front ran along the border between East and West Germany. However, in the case of a nuclear war, a nuclear strike would have likely also hit the territory of the Baltic States, which held Soviet air defence forces and early warning systems and the strategic air strike force. The Raadi airport in Tartu, which NATO would have attacked with a 1, 7 to 9 megaton nuclear bomb, was especially important.2 Nonetheless, the first NATO nuclear strike would have struck the Warsaw Pact states, and the territory of the USSR would have initially been spared fearing an escalation.3
In addition to the threat of nuclear war, the price of the apparent stability of Pax Sovietica was the threat to the preservation of the Estonian nation. The Soviet power brought state-wide terror and massive human rights violations. By the end of the 1980s, Estonians faced the possibility of becoming a minority in their own land as a result of the Russification policy and immigration. In addition, Estonians had (as in the times of the Russian Empire) to serve in the Russian army and participate in the super state’s military campaigns, which in total raised the price that4 had to be paid for the “Cold Peace”.
Estonia’s last attempt at self-determination in the security political sense was in September 1944, when Jüri Uluots, the Prime Minister of Estonia who acted as President, appointed a Minister of War and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces immediately prior to the Red Army reaching Tallinn, and called for military resistance against the Soviet Union. The meaning of that act remained symbolic, since the government of Otto Tief did not manage to execute real power; in addition, the Minister of War Johan Holberg refused the position and left Estonia with German troops. The Estonian government-in-exile did not have a Minister of War until 1973, when Avdy Andresson was appointed to the position; the last Minister of War in exile was the Estonian-born US retired Colonel Jüri Toomepuu. The Estonian government-in-exile, which no country recognised, was naturally unable to influence the events on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Estonian expatriates in general were given the opportunity to serve in the armed forces and participate in the military operations of many countries, and several Estonians also had a successful military career. When the newly independent Estonia began to rebuild military forces, it could draw on the military experiences of several officers and reservists of Estonian origin (Aleksander Einseln, Hain Rebas).
What opportunities did the Estonians who stayed have to influence Soviet national defence? The constitutional amendment of 1944 created the constitutional opportunity for forming USSR people’s commissariats of defence and “Union Republic forces”. In theory, this gave Estonians as the main ethnic group of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic the opportunity to participate in the USSR Security policy and lead national units. The ESSR People’s Commissariat of Defence was formally founded in September 1944 and in summer 1945 General Lieutenant Lembit Pärn was appointed Estonian People’s Commissar of Defence, which was unique in the entire Soviet Union. However, no real steps toward forming a ministry followed; the reform remained “on paper”. The opportunity Stalin gave to develop the Estonian SSR’s “security policy” remained illusory until the crisis that ended the Soviet Union. The empire maintained central control over all units of the Soviet armed forces. This was done by the general staff under the Communist Party of the Soviet Union situated in Moscow.
Nevertheless, it was inevitable that Party and government structures had contacts with the unit commanders stationed in the Union Republic at state as well as district and city level. Troops stationed in Union Republics had the right to choose their representatives both to local councils as well as the Union Republic Supreme Soviet, and participate in their work. In order to guarantee civil control over the army and coordinate activities with Union Republic administrative institutions, the Military Councils of the Baltic fleet and Baltic military district stationed in the Baltic States included (in addition to army personnel) also local Party and government functionaries. Military units had contacts with Party and government institutions at all administrative levels. While relations between the military and local government were tense in the 1940s and 1950s owing to the army’s low morale and behaviour culture, from the second half of the 1960s, relations were more characterised by practical need and cooperation born out of mutual benefit. Collective farms and holdings received military personnel to help during harvest, and as overall discipline worsened, the army became a good source for deficit goods like building materials, fuel and kerosene. This meant that the Soviet army slowly grew “local roots”. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Estonia started to restore its independence, the ESSR leaders persistently kept up friendly relations with Soviet commanders, so that they would not participate in police operations or repressions that the empire’s central power could have planned against the population.
In general, the Soviet army remained (at least for the indigenous population) a feared occupational army. Closed areas on Estonian islands, shorelines and around military units where civilians were prohibited access or for which they needed a permit created a silent protest. The environmental pollution caused by the Soviet army—plane and rocket fuel leaks, electro-magnetic pollution near radars etc.—and fear of a nuclear disaster created a deep mistrust towards the armed forces.
As during the Russian Empire, a compulsory military service also extended to Estonia annexed into the Soviet Union. At the end of World War II, young Estonian men could complete their military service in their homeland in units headed mainly by ethnic Estonians. National military units, which were dissolved in 1938 and re-formed in 1941, existed in the Soviet Union until the 1956 Tbilisi demonstrations. During World War II, the 8th Estonian Rifle Corps of the Red Army was formed; at the end of the war, the troop numbers were reduced and repeated restructuring was undertaken. In 1956, the national corps stationed in the Baltics (with Lithuanian and Latvian units totalling six divisions) were disbanded, many Estonian officers retired.
Losing national corps, favouring ethnically diverse “international” units and exterritorial assembly (assigning conscripts to service outside the borders of their Union Republic) had to, in the opinion of the Soviet leadership, meld together different Soviet peoples, strengthen the state’s identity and better the fighting capability of the armed forces. A strong professional identity and weak integration into Soviet society as a whole and at the local military unit level were necessary to guarantee the loyalty of the armed forces to the state’s political leaders. The Kremlin was largely successful in that—as ethnic conflicts in the armed forces were within tolerable levels—but by the end of the second half of the 1980s it became apparent that many military units had integrated into society more than expected. When the central power tried to make the Baltic Union Republics surrender using military force in January 1991 and later during the August Putsch of 1991, they had to rely on troops brought in from the outside. The locally stationed units were seen as untrustworthy, which is why they were generally not used in counterinsurgency operations aimed against civil society.
The result of the Soviet national policy was a decline in general military identity, education and values in Estonia, as well as Latvia and Lithuania, in spite of the strong Soviet military-patriotic education and propaganda. Even though the Soviet armed forces were ethnically diverse, the officer and petty officer ranks were dominated by Slavic nations: Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians. Compared to some other, especially Central Asian peoples, the Baltic nations were well represented among the officer ranks, yet a military career remained unpopular in Estonia throughout the entire Soviet period. Only a few Estonian officers reached the highest levels of the career ladder. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that when Estonian national defence was being rebuilt after 1991 there was a lack of experienced officers; the society’s low awareness, low interest in military issues and widespread pacifism was an even more serious problem. Therefore, the contrast between the situation after World War I and after the Cold War was great.
Even though the Estonian people could not determine themselves in terms of international security policy, Estonia’s territory and its population remained an important, albeit passive factor in the post-war strategic landscape. The Cold War period marked a peak in the power of Russia as Europe’s “last empire”. Never before, even not during the reign of Peter the Great or Alexander I, was this nation able to turn the Baltic Sea into its own internal sea. After World War II it almost succeeded. In 1945, the Soviet Union (which in early 1944 was still pressed against the eastern end of the Gulf of Finland) controlled the Baltic Sea’s east and south shore from Leningrad to Wismar in North Germany. The Danish island of Bornholm, which the Red Army temporarily occupied in 1946, remained a symbolic border between Eastern and Western spheres of influence until the end of the Cold War (NATO, founded in 1949, did not conduct exercises east of the island).
The strategic situation in the Baltic Sea region had thoroughly changed. The Soviet Union had risen from a regional great state to a super-state. Both Finland and Sweden were forced to follow a neutrality policy, even though both maintained a credible independent national defence. Norway, Iceland and Denmark joined NATO and helped to defend the northern border strategically important to the alliance (from Denmark’s southern border to the North Sea). A Nordic balance was established.5 Since the Federal Republic of Germany could no longer be considered a great power, Poland and the German Democratic Republic were vassals of Moscow and the former Eastern Prussia was joined with the RSSR as the Kaliningrad oblast, the Soviet Union had no real competition on the Baltic Sea. In addition to the ice-free harbours in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the Red-Banner Baltic Fleet got the Pillau (now Baltiysk) seaport in Eastern Prussia and could freely use Polish and East German fleet bases. In 1978, the NATO assembly evaluated the balance of power on the Baltic Sea to be in favour of the Warsaw pact states 4 to 1 or even 5 to 1.
The Soviet Union’s post-war strategy can be divided into three main stages: 1945–1960, 1961–1970 and 1971–1985.6 Changes in Soviet armed forces were naturally reflected in the composition, structure and capacity of units stationed in the Baltics and Kaliningrad.
The period lasting from Stalin’s rule to the end of the 1950s was characterised by the desire to protect the new territories conquered during World War II and the cordon sanitaire in East and Central Europe, which in Moscow’s eyes were threatened by the US, UK and political-military alliances formed under their auspices, like NATO, CENTO and SEATO. The containment policy of the Truman administration and the Truman doctrine promised military aid to states threatened by Communism and tried to push the USSR sphere of influence further back from NATO borders, including with the use of special service operations that were described in the previous part of the article.
The Soviet Union responded to the real or imaginary threat of the US and NATO by maintaining a large peacetime military structure that could be easily enlarged in case of war by keeping large military units in the conquered areas of East and Central Europe and by building up the Warsaw Pact coalition, which seemingly copied NATO as a multilateral union. The key components of the Soviet strategy were large offensive army units with high battle readiness, which held Central and West Europe “hostage” at frontline positions. Overwhelmingly large conventional forces had to prevent an attack by NATO, which had overtaken the USSR in nuclear weapons development. After World War II, Stalin decreased the number of military personnel from 6 million to 3; in the 1950s the number began to rise again, reaching 3.6 million by 1958.
The Baltic military district formed in 1940 in the Baltic SSRs and Kaliningrad was a territorial structure, which formed an operational army group or front with its air defence and tactical air force component during the war. There were a total of sixteen military districts in the USSR. During the entire period, the command centre of the military district was situated in Riga. The Red-Banner Baltic Fleet was one of the most powerful and important Soviet fleets, alongside the North Sea, Black Sea and Pacific fleets until the 1960s. At the end of the war, the fleet’s headquarters were moved from Leningrad to Baltiysk (former Pillau) in Kaliningrad. With the addition of German trophy ships, the fleet was divided in two in 1946—the 4th and 8th fleet—, where the headquarters of the 8th fleet was in Tallinn. The fleet was united again in 1956, but the northern group with its centre in Tallinn and southern group with its centre in Baltiysk remained. In this way, Tallinn retained an important position as a navy command centre, which was also reflected in the numerous military establishments and bases in central Tallinn.7
In the 1940s and 1950s, the main tasks of the Baltic fleet were to protect new conquered territories by blocking the Gulf of Finland (with its navy base in Porkkala, which was returned to Finland in 1956), and prevent NATO’s deployments or landing operations on the Baltic Sea. The Baltic fleet seemed to be engaged in strategic defence, as exercises took place in the Eastern part of the Baltic Sea near the bases. In that period, the armed forces of East European allies were still marginal.
The Baltic fleet was built according to Stalin’s directions proceeding from an out-dated concept of an ocean-worthy surface fleet until 1955. By the mid-1950s, the fleet’s arsenal included approximately 2 heavy cruisers, 10 light cruisers, 46 destroyers, 16 destroyer escorts, 103 submarines and numerous minesweepers, minelayers and patrol ships. The cruisers were the heart of the surface fleet, diesel-electric powered submarines the main strike force. The vessels were supported by a naval aviation force situated on the mainland and consisting of a few hundred planes. The shore was fortified with artillery in key positions like Paldiski, Kolga Peninsula, Liepāja, Baltiysk and Świnoujście. Radar and signal surveillance posts were erected from Wismar to Porkkala for the detection of invasions from air and sea. Air defence was aggressive: In 1950, the air force pilots based in Latvia shot down a US PB44-2 Privateer-type airplane near Liepāja; in the same decade they shot down another Swedish transport plane and rescue plane.
The main target of the fleet seemed to be sea denial for the enemy, but it was too powerful to be merely defensive. The West presumed that in the case of war the fleet would be used for operations outside the Baltic Sea. In the words of Winston Churchill, the Baltic fleet was “a giant with his nostrils pinched by the narrow exits from the Baltic and the Black Sea”. The absence of aircraft carriers, marine corps and landing vessels, combined with NATO’s control over the Danish straits threatened to close the fleet into the Baltic Sea, and during the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin’s fleet programme was legitimately harshly criticised.8 The Baltic fleet was targeted for thorough reforms.
The personnel of the Baltic military district (BSR) consisted of approximately half a million men by the end of the 1950s. It was a WWII-type army that consisted of infantry divisions with little mobility.9 Since the Soviet Union’s main strike power was concentrated into four army groups in East and Central Europe (Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary), these were second echelon troops. The BSR was, however, an important logistical base for supporting potential operations in Central Europe. In addition, it contained the strategic airport in Tartu; later it also had missile bases which were not subordinate to the BSR as a separate service arm.
Khrushchev instigated reforms in 1960, which stressed the importance of nuclear weapons at a strategic, operational and tactical level. Land force units were reduced from 3.6 million servicemen to 2 million by 1968. Land forces relied more and more on armoured vehicles and tanks that were intended to protect the infantryman from nuclear pollution and guarantee the high pace and depth of operations. A new wave of reforms started in 1971, which prepared the armed forces both for nuclear and conventional warfare. The number of personnel grew to over five million by the 1980s. Extensive modernisation was also reflected in the BSR’s armament. By the mid-1970s the arsenal included battle tanks T-54/-55, 122 mm and 152 mm self-propelled howitzers, SAM and SSM missiles. At the division level, the main missile type was the surface-to-surface tactical nuclear warhead carrier Luna-M with a 70 km range (NATO: FROG-7), at the army level R-11 and R-17 missiles (NATO reporting name: Scud) with a 300 km range, which in the 1980s were replaced with the 500 km range SS-23 missiles.
Thorough motorisation enlarged tank divisions from 9,500 men to 11,000, infantry divisions from 12,000 to 13,000. By the 1980s the army already had T-80 tanks, military helicopters and new airborne operations weapons at its disposal; about a third of the Warsaw Pact’s air strike capacity was consolidated in the Baltics.
By the time Gorbachev came to power, the BSR probably included 3 tank divisions, 5 motor rifle divisions, 2 air assault brigades, and strategic air force and missile units. Soviet armed forces had achieved a new level of quality and posed a serious threat to NATO positions in the western part of the Baltic Sea. In the case of a war, the task of the BSR and the Baltic fleet would probably have been to open the Baltic front and act on the right flank of the main strike direction of the Warsaw pact, the army group stationed in Germany. The army would have had to take the coasts of northern Germany, Schleswig-Holstein, Denmark, the Danish straits and maybe also southern Sweden. Soviet units would have been supported by the Polish navy and marine forces and airborne assault units additionally brought in from other military districts. The allies would have had to act separately in their areas of operation. After taking the Danish straits, the Baltic fleet would have had to support the Northern Fleet that would have tried to cut through NATO’s shipping routes on the North Atlantic and North Sea through northern Norway and the Norwegian Sea.10
The BSR’s strike capability was concentrated in its southern part. From NATO’s point of view, the units stationed in Estonia and Latvia did not pose a serious threat, they were more concerned about strike units in Kaliningrad, Poland and northern Germany.
The territories of both Estonia and Latvia were primarily important for protecting the inner territories, large cities and centres of the USSR. When it came to detecting a possible NATO nuclear strike, the Dnestr-type space radar located in Skrunda, Courland (Latvia) had an extremely important position—five or six of these were located in the USSR. There was also a geospatial intelligence centre for the Main Intelligence Agency of the General Staff and the KGB near the Ventspils and Irbene military settlements. The complex included the RT-32 radio telescope with a 32 m radius, the largest in Northern Europe and eighth largest in the world. These were used for monitoring NATO satellite communication, space shuttles and planes.11
A fairly large air force was concentrated into Estonia, which was necessary (among other reasons) for neutralising the strong Swedish air force, but also for defending Leningrad on its left flank.12 In case of war, planes and missiles taking off from the North Sea or Norwegian coast could fly over this territory. Mathias Rust, who dramatically landed on Red Square in 1987, flew over Estonia, where the units of the 14th Air Defence Division detected and monitored the flyover. The division was well-equipped—it had 187 radars. The range of the anti-aircraft missiles in its armament was 300 km.13
In theory, in the case of a war, infantry units stationed in Estonia could have been used against Finland and Sweden. Finnish armed forces considered local units on Estonian territory to be ready for action in southern Finland, Åland, Gotland etc., but their combat-readiness was low. Getting the 144th Guards Motor Rifle Division stationed in Keila and other locations near Tallinn combat-ready would have taken two weeks to a month. However, the reserves were plentiful and Finland estimated that in the case of a war an additional infantry division might be formed.14 It seems as though the purpose of the local land force units was more about security, suppressing the local population and ensuring the neutrality of Finland and Sweden. However, there were special forces here whose aim was to strike. For example, the GRU 4th Separate Special Forces Brigade was tasked with attacking strategic targets in Denmark in case of war.15 In a combat situation, the planes of the 196th Guards Minskiy Military-Transport Aviation Regiment would probably have supported Poland’s parachute units, whose area of operation was Schleswig-Holstein.16 The 93rd Soviet Navy Nuclear Submarine Training Base at Paldiski (Estonia) with two nuclear reactors was an object of importance on par with Skrunda that Russia fervently wished to keep even after the Soviet Union collapsed.
The Soviet Union’s strike capability was supported by the development of the navy. During the time of Khrushchev and Brezhnev, battleships, cruisers and other large ships were decommissioned. By the 1970s, the Soviet Union had a first-class navy equipped with missiles and electronic devices, ready for both defence and offence operations far from their base. The Baltic fleet handed over its primary position to the Northern Fleet, which it was supposed to support.17 The marine forces were founded in 1964, tasked with being the vanguard unit in landing operations. The Spetsnaz brigade was also subordinated to the Baltic fleet, tasked with special operations deep behind enemy lines. From 1976, the Baltic fleet also had six submarines armed with ballistic nuclear warheads (range about 1,100 km). New ships were smaller and better suited for the Baltic Sea. By the 1980s, the Baltic fleet had an impressive capacity for sea landing operations, with the ability to land almost two marine divisions with full equipment owing to top-of-the-line landing vessels. The following echelon was to be brought in with civil vessels capable of carrying several motorised infantry divisions.
In the case of a war, the tasks of the Baltic fleet were probably: (1) capturing the Danish straits, (2) organising a navy landing and logistical operations to support the army and air strike troops on the coast of the Baltic Sea and Danish islands, (3) closing the Baltic Sea to NATO troops, and (4) protecting the connecting sea routes from the Soviet motherland to the advanced land positions. Supporting the Northern Fleet’s operations in North Europe was its second task.
Starting from the reforms of the 1960s, the stance of the Baltic military district and Baltic fleet had changed from defensive to offensive. Since the Soviet Union could use the territories of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to station troops and an advanced logistical base, capturing the Baltic States significantly helped strengthen the Soviet strategic position. By the end of the 1980s it seemed like the empire needed the Baltics less for the defence of its own territory, but rather for a possible attack on Northern and Western Europe. The activities of the Soviet forces on the Baltic Sea became increasingly aggressive. Starting from 1958, navy patrols cruised the Danish straits and the Bay of Kiel; as of the early 1970s signal surveillance and bomber airplanes flew along the Baltic Sea from northeast to southwest up to Rügen (Germany). Sea landing operation exercises were no rare sight in the 1980s in the Rügen area, imitating an invasion of Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein. Soviet submarines repeatedly entered Swedish territorial waters. The closer the Warsaw Pact forces moved, the shorter NATO’s early warning became.18 The West’s impression of the USSR’s aggression was deceptive in many ways. In the 1980s, the Soviet Union felt increasingly vulnerable due to the west’s technological supremacy, which is why it started to focus on early warning, readiness and prevention. However, it was extremely dangerous, since a falsely estimated threat could have ended with the Soviet Union launching a one-sided attack.
NATO as a defence alliance probably did not plan ground operations against the Baltic States, including Estonia. NATO’s activity was focused on defending the Danish straits, with a special Principal Subordinate Command BALTAP (Allied Forces Baltic Approaches) formed in 1962 for that purpose, positioned between the NATO central front (Germany) and north front (Norway–Iceland). Defending Denmark was complicated, as the depth of the defence was very limited. The main fighting method was laying mines in coastal waters; even US B-52 bombers practiced dropping mines into the Danish straits.19
After the end of the Cold War, NATO, Finland and Sweden balanced the strategic situation on the Baltic Sea. Taking into account the size of the Baltic fleet, Western states significantly outnumber Russia,20 yet surface vessels are almost defenceless against the threat of modern missile systems, like the BAL and BASTION coastal defence missile systems and the tactical missile system ISKANDER-M in Kaliningrad. Russia is capable of isolating the Baltic war zone from the rest of NATO forces.21 At the same time, Russia’s strategic position is much weaker than that of the Soviet Union. Nowadays we do not speak of the Russian threat to the Danish straits, Holland or France, but Russia is capable of military operations of limited duration against smaller neighbouring states. It can afford “small wars”. Russia is not interested in conquering and subduing the Baltic territories and population as it did during World War II—at least not now—but it may test the Ukrainian model here as well, if the international situation should prove favourable, as per General Varennikov’s plan in January 1991.
1 Periphery or Contact Zone? The NATO flanks 1961 to 2013: on behalf of the Bundeswehr Centre of Military History and Social Sciences edited by Bernd Lemke, Freiburg: Rombach Verlag, 2015, pg. 11.
For example, in 1959, the Tartu strategic airport was among the top 20 targets of the US strategic bombers (more precisely, 13th). There was a total of 1,100 airports in the Eastern Bloc that the US intended to attack in the event of a war
Robert Nurick, Tuumarelvad suunatud Eestile NATO suunalt ning suunatud Eestist NATO suunale ning naaberriikidele Läänemere regioonis. Presentation at the conference “Soviet troops in Estonia: Cold War tasks”, 6–7 December 2016, Estonian War Museum (notes in author’s possession).
4 Yoram Gorlizki and Oleg Khlevniuk, Cold peace: Stalin and the Soviet ruling circle, 1945–1953, Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
5 Arne Olav Brundtland, The Nordic Balance: Past and Present – Cooperation and Conflict 1:4 1966, 30–63.
6 David M. Glantz, The military strategy of the Soviet Union: a history, London: F. Cass 1992. It is likely that changes began to occur already in the early 1980s, when the prevention of a NATO attack began to be stressed as important.
7 Jüri Pärn, Margus Hergauk, Mati Õun, Punalaevastik Eestis 20. sajandi lõpukümnendeil, Tallinn: Sentinel, 2006; Jüri Pärn, Margus Hergauk, Mati Õun, Võõrväed Eestis 20. sajandi lõpukümnendeil, Tallinn: Sentinel, 2006.
8 Nikita Sergeevich Khruschev, Khruschev remembers; with an introduction, commentary and notes by Edward Crankshaw; translated and edited by Strobe Talbott, Boston: Little, Brown, 1970, 19–20.
9 Andris Trapāns, Soviet military power in the Baltic area, Stockholm: Lettiska Nationella Fonden, 1986.
10 Rüdiger Wenzke (edit), Die Streitkräfte der DDR und Polens in der Operationsplanung des Warschauer Paktes; im Auftrag des Militägeschichtlichen Forschungsamtes, Potsdam: Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt, 2010.
11 Skrunda’s importance was stressed by Nurick in the presentation Nuclear weapons aimed at Estonia.
12 Brigadier General Lauri Kiianlinna’s presentation Finland and the Nordic countries: assessments of possible conflicts at the conference “Soviet troops in Estonia: Cold War tasks”, 6–7 December 2016, Estonian War Museum (notes and presentation in author’s possession).
13 Vello Loemaa’s presentation NSVL õhujõud ja õhukaitsevägi Eesti territooriumil: ülesanded ja argipäev NATO ja neutraalsete naaberriikide heidutusjõu võtmes at the conference “Soviet troops in Estonia: Cold War tasks”, 6–7 December 2016, Estonian War Museum (notes in author’s possession).
14 Kiianlinna, Finland and the Nordic countries.
15 Loemaa, NSVL õhujõud ja õhukaitsevägi Eesti territooriumil
16 Enn Tupp’s information at the conference “Soviet troops in Estonia: Cold War tasks”, 6–7 December 2016, Estonian War Museum (notes in author’s possession).
17 Norman Pomar, The Naval Institute guide to the Soviet Navy, Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1991, 14–15.
18 Sigurd Hess, Intelligence Clash in the Baltic Sea during the Cold War, Olaf Mertelsmann, Kaarel Piirimäe (edit.), – The Baltic Sea Region and the Cold War, Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2012, 223–238.
19 General Michael H. Clemmesen, A view from NATO:
The BALTAP Area and the Baltics in the Cold War: Threat Perceptions and Reality as well as Final Defence Planning
, presentation at the conference “Soviet troops in Estonia: Cold War tasks”, 6–7 December 2016, Estonian War Museum; Twenty-fourth meeting of the North Atlantic Assembly held at Lisbon, Portugal, November 25 to November 30, 1978: report of the U.S. Delegation, Washington: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1979.
20 Kiianlinna, Finland and the Nordic countries.
21 Eesti rahvusvahelises julgeolekukeskkonnas, Teabeamet (Estonian Information Board), 2017, 40–41.


This article was published in ICDS Diplomaatia magazine.

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