Baltic Rim Monitor Articles
The Finnish government is to increase spending on defence in 2020, even though minimally.
A court in Tallinn has found a former officer of Estonia’s Internal Security Service (KaPo) guilty of cooperating with Russian intelligence services. A bit earlier, a court in Tartu had convicted a Russian citizen of spying for Moscow. Both judgements have already entered into force. The spies were detained in the spring of 2019 – they have been added to an ever-growing list of people collaborating with Russia’s special services who have been captured, tried and sentenced to prison for acting against Estonia.
Great Britain has started its military contingent rotation in Estonia – this time it is also an element of the extensive operation aimed to check the mobility capabilities of the British army in Europe.
Between September 23 and 29, NATO aircraft participating in the Baltic Air Policing mission launched eight times to identify and escort Russian aircraft over the Baltic – according to the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence. In most cases, Russians did not provide flight plans, their transponders were turned off and they did not react to attempts to communicate via radio. In one case, a Russian plane violated the airspace of Estonia which provoked diplomatic protest of authorities in Tallinn.
Parliamentary Inquiry Launched in Lithuania: MP Irina Rozova Accused of Cooperating with Russian Diplomats
The Lithuanian Seimas has decided that one of the parliamentary committees will conduct an investigation aimed at determining whether the actions of MP Irina Rozova posed threats to Lithuania’s national security. The VSD, the country’s counter-intelligence, revealed that for many years Rozova has had close ties with Russian diplomats and has discussed a number of political issues with them.
After several months of campaigning, the main opposition force, the Reform Party, has failed to overthrow or, at the very least, to weaken the government led by Jüri Ratas. Moreover, public opinion polls also seem to confirm the stabilisation of the political scene in Estonia.
The 75th anniversary of the Red Army incursion to Estonia and related statements made by Russians sparked a sharp reaction in Tallinn. The issue of the takeover of Estonia by the Soviet army in 1944 and consequent almost half a century of occupation are one of the fields of tension in the relations between Russia and Estonia. The historical policy of Moscow is also a matter of dispute with many other countries. Russia defends the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and claims that it had “liberated” Estonia in 1944. In turn, in Tallinn, there are many proponents of the demand for compensation for occupation from Moscow.
It has now become something of a tradition that August and September are a time of increased activity of the Russian Air Force over the Baltic Sea. This is mainly the result of intense military exercises conducted by the Russian army at this period of the year. An interception of a group of Russian aircraft performed by Belgian fighter jets, which took off from Lithuania, on September 17 confirms that Moscow has been regularly sending out nuclear-capable bombers on missions over the Baltic Sea.
After four months of the functioning of government, PM Jüri Ratas had to face the first vote of no confidence. The coalition consisting of Estonian Centre Party, EKRE and Isamaa rejected the motion of censure without problems. The fact that five deputies of the opposition did not take part in such important voting is a sign of its weakness.
The Lithuanian Ministry of Defence informed that the U.S. administration has agreed to sell Lithuania its newest JLTV armoured vehicles. The contract for the purchase of 200 vehicles is to be signed this year, however, it is quite possible that the Lithuanians will buy more JLTVs in the future.
On August 21, the President of Russia made an official visit to Helsinki. Its course confirms that the current Finnish authorities may well be counted among European countries advocating for a reset of relations with Moscow. It is particularly striking that President of Finland Sauli Niinistö and Vladimir Putin spoke almost in unison on the issue of medium-range cruise missiles, which have lately become one of the main problems in Russian-U.S. relations.
A new helicopter base has been built on the Gogland Island in the Gulf of Finland, Russian Defense Ministry informed. Located in the middle of the Gulf, between Estonia and Finland, the heliport is said by Moscow to be an essential location for defense and security of the fleet’s military facilities in Kronstadt and St. Petersburg.
The Eurosceptic Finns Party and the centre-right National Coalition Party are currently the two most popular parties in Finland. They both are the opposition to the centre-left government formed after the April parliamentary elections.
Russian aviation does not reduce its activity in the Baltic Sea regularly alarming countries in the region. This mainly concerns Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia but the Russian activity troubles other countries, including neutral Finland and Sweden.