RIHO TERRAS Six Russian ships left Syria, these can now be expected to be brought to the Baltic Sea

Riho Terras
, member of the European Parliament (European People’s Party/Isamaa)
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Former commander of the Estonian defense forces and current member of the European Parliament Riho Terras.
Former commander of the Estonian defense forces and current member of the European Parliament Riho Terras. Photo: Gert Tali

The allies’ reaction to Russia's provocation of shifting borders in the Baltic Sea must be clear and concrete, Isamaa MEP Riho Terras finds.

Russia's decision to unilaterally move its sea border in the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland and around Kaliningrad is a very clear example of how Russia is waging a hybrid war with NATO.

This is initially an «intention», but it is obvious that such decisions are not taken randomly in Russia, it is specifically the Kremlin that is behind it, and the plan will also be implemented. The likely main purpose of the move is to cause confusion in the Western allies and to gauge reactions. Therefore, Russia's step must be followed by a very clear and concrete response.

There must be a reaction from the allies

That Russia was planning provocations at sea could have been assumed right after Finland and Sweden joined NATO. Both are strong maritime states and their accession made the Baltic Sea an inland water body of the alliance. However, for Russia, control over what is happening in the Baltic Sea is extremely important.

For NATO, this is yet another wake-up call that greater contributions to the security of the Baltic Sea are needed.

It is worth noting that, according to my information, a group of six ships of the Russian Navy recently left Syria and are planning to exit the Mediterranean. The destination of the ships is unknown, but considering recent news, it can be suspected that they will be brought to the Baltic Sea.

The allies' response to Russia's provocation must be clear and concrete. Finland and Lithuania should definitely move their ships to the area in question to send a clear signal – they can move as they wish in their waters. But there must also be a broader reaction: this is a serious issue on which the North Atlantic Council must form its position.

NATO must bring part of its standing naval forces (SNF) to the Baltic Sea.

For NATO, this is yet another wake-up call that greater contributions to the security of the Baltic Sea are needed. I already said it before last year's Vilnius summit and I repeated it after the damage caused to Balticconnector in the fall: NATO must bring part of its standing naval forces (SNF) to the Baltic Sea. Especially in a situation where a full-scale war is going on in the region and we have seen several provocations at sea.

Russia does not sleep, which is why we cannot delay important decisions either. Whether «we» is Estonia, which has still not carried out procurements to bring the national ammunition reserves to the required level, the European Union, which has not agreed on sufficient support measures for military and economic support of Ukraine, or NATO in order to respond to the latest provocation of the aggressor.

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