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Insights from Jyllands-Posten, NRK, and Ukrainska Pravda
The Kremlin has placed Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and other Baltic officials on its wanted list, as European intelligence warns of a growing Russian threat along NATO’s borders.
Russian media reported that Kallas was wanted for destroying memorials to Soviet soldiers, a reference to Estonia’s policy of removing World War II memorials from the former Soviet Union.
Russia’s Interior Ministry also placed Estonia’s secretary of state, and Lithuania’s culture minister, on its list, but Kallas is the first known head of state to be wanted by the Kremlin. Russia has previously placed 59 Latvian parliament members on the list, as well as U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and several International Criminal Court judges, according to independent Russian outlet Mediazona.
Kallas, an outspoken critic of the Kremlin and its war in Ukraine, has pushed for more military support to Kyiv and stricter sanctions against Moscow. Adding Kallas to the wanted list could further inflame tensions between Russia and neighboring Estonia, which warned on Tuesday that Russia is preparing for a long-term confrontation with NATO.
European countries warn of rising Russian threat
Russia is on track to double its military presence along NATO’s border, and has chosen a path of “long-term confrontation,” the Estonian foreign intelligence service said. Estonia’s report follows a spate of European countries that have highlighted Russia’s threat not just to Ukraine, but to the rest of Europe. Denmark’s defense minister warned last week about the growing possibility of a Russian attack on Europe within three to five years, citing “new information” that had come to light, but did not elaborate further. Meanwhile, Norway’s intelligence service said Monday that Norway is “facing a more serious security threat now than it has in decades,” due to growing security tensions, the Norwegian outlet NRK reported.
Russia may struggle to stem military losses in Ukraine
Russia may struggle to preserve its military strength if the country’s severe losses in Ukraine continue, according to a report released Tuesday by the Royal United Services Institute. While Russia has managed to ramp up its production of tanks and armored vehicles, the production is heavily dependent on existing stocks that will be exhausted by 2026, the report concluded, and its military is also likely to face shortfalls in ammunition and missiles in the coming years.
Russia lost almost 8,800 armored fighting vehicles since February 2022, a Tuesday report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated. The authors believe that Russia would be able to sustain its war efforts in Ukraine for at least another two to three years, despite losing hundreds of vehicles and artillery weapons per month. “Russian losses in Ukraine are beyond comprehension for those accustomed to European force structures,” The Economist’s defense editor Shashank Joshi wrote on X in response to IISS’s report.
Baltic states ramp up defense efforts in bid to deter Russia
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania announced last month that they are building an extensive defensive line of bunkers and fortifications to slow down a possible Russian invasion. After studying the war in Ukraine, an Estonian defense official told The Economist that, “our main lesson is that we need to find a way to stop the advance of Russian armoured units.” While the defensive line may strengthen Baltic readiness, it also runs directly counter to NATO military doctrine, which largely favors an “elastic defense” over “static” defenses, Lukas Milevski, a Baltic defense expert, wrote for the Foreign Policy Research Institute. A static defense would also likely see Baltic militaries targeting logistics bases and military targets inside Russia in the event of an invasion — something Western leaders may be reluctant to condone, Milevski added.