The May number of Diplomaatia focuses on Russia and military security in the Baltic Sea region. Various authors view the lessons learnt from Russia’s military invasion into Ukraine, which the neighbours of Estonia should consider upon developing their national defence capabilities.
The opening story of the May number is journalist Jaanus Piirsalu’s interview with Maria Lipman, expert at the Carnegie Endowment’s Moscow Centre. Lipman states that it has been very clear how strongly Moscow has resented the expansion of the Western sphere of influence right next to the Russian borders in the Putin era. She claims that by today, Putin has succeeded in making the West react to his actions, not vice versa. “We do not know how the crisis will develop and be resolved. It is not clear how far reaching are Russian pretensions.”
Charly Salonius-Pasternak, researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, proposes to modernise the national defence of Finland in the light of the Ukrainian crisis. Salonius-Pasternak claims: “Finland needs to engage in a defence reform, if it is to maintain a military capability that is relevant in the 21st century.”
Martin Hurt, Deputy Director of the International Centre for Defence Studies (ICDS), explores the lessons that the Crimean situation presents to Estonian national defence. “Estonia will be unable to win a war of sheer numbers against its eastern neighbour, so it must focus on quality. The events in Crimea show that rapid response forces should be a priority,” argues Hurt.
Raimonds Rublovskis, a Research Fellow at the Latvian Institute of International Affairs and (Retired) Colonel of the Latvian Armed Forces, states in his article that the fundamental reassessment of the Latvian National Armed Forces’ (LNAF) tasks is on the discussion table due to events in Ukraine. “One would argue that the core set of tasks will remain, however, the security environment requires a significant shift from the conventional mentality, and the mind-set of military leadership should transform into a more asymmetrically orientated one.”
Tomas Jermalavičius, a Research Fellow at ICDS, focuses on Lithuanian defence capabilities. Jermalavičius writes that Lithuania faces an urgent need not only to rebalance its defence strategy or review military doctrine but also to start treating national defence as such very seriously, as an existential matter, which has not been the case since the accession to NATO and the EU in 2004. “And it needs a political elite, who understands defence, is capable of wisely guiding it and willing to lead the public opinion, rather than just mimic it.”