April 14, 2015

Estonia-Russia relations: What to expect in near future

Official bilateral relations between Estonia and Russia have been almost non-existent for more than two decades, since the collapse of the former Soviet Union. There are a number of reasons why Estonia or any other NATO and EU countries in the Baltic and Nordic region cannot undertake and pursue good-neighborly relations and cooperation with Russia. And it is not because Russia is not a member of the EU or NATO.

Official bilateral relations between Estonia and Russia have been almost non-existent for more than two decades, since the collapse of the former Soviet Union. There are a number of reasons why Estonia or any other NATO and EU countries in the Baltic and Nordic region cannot undertake and pursue good-neighborly relations and cooperation with Russia. And it is not because Russia is not a member of the EU or NATO.

First, there is the shadow of history. Russia has not wholly accepted that Estonia is and deserves to be a free nation. It’s possible that the Kremlin still believes that the complete sovereignty and Western orientation of the Baltic States is a “temporary anomaly”, as they did at the start of World War II.
Second, Russia is obsessed with military and political dominance in both the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea regions. Estonia (as well as Latvia and Lithuania) represents a geopolitical obstacle for the Kremlin. Russia has always sought to conquer ice-free ports. Russia faces tremendous logistical problems in illegally annexed Crimea, as well as in her military outpost, the Kaliningrad oblast.
Third, Estonia is one of the few EU member states that has always been firmly critical of Russia’s undemocratic regime and aggressive behaviour, seeking to strengthen solidarity and common positions within the union. Estonia is also an active and exemplary member of NATO, the organization that the Kremlin despises the most.
Last, but not least, it seems to be proper to conclude by mentioning the “Russian-speaking population”, or ethnic Russians living in the former Soviet Socialist Republics for whom Russian is their first language, and whom Moscow pretends to “defend”, regardless of their citizenship. It may be possible for the Kremlin to accept that many Russians live a (much) better life in more distant Western countries than they would in Russia, but to acknowledge that fact in the case of Estonia (and the other Baltic States) would be political suicide.
Continue reading on ERR

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