Estonia claims that a Russian border guard helicopter crossed the border into their airspace on June 18. The Estonian foreign ministry stated that the Russian border guards using a Mi-8 helicopter crossed into their southeastern territory without permission, enraging the Estonian Government as tensions rise in the Baltics.

“Estonia considers this an extremely serious and regrettable incident that undoubtedly causes additional tensions and is completely unacceptable,” the Estonian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“Russia must stop threatening its neighbors and understand that the price of the aggression Russia launched against Ukraine is indeed high,” they added.

As a result of the Russian aggression toward Estonian territory, their government summoned the Russian ambassador to Tallinn for an explanation for the trespass as well as to reprimand what the Estonians consider to be an “extremely serious” violation of their airspace. They also aim to investigate the flight path of the Mi-8 border guard helicopter, which stayed in its territory for over two minutes in the southern Koidula area, a place that is very near to the Russian city of Pskov.

“This is the picture of the threat. How we see the Russian threat… It has never been as serious as it is now,” Estonian Defense Minister Kusti Salm said.

Russian Border Guard, RF-23162, Mil Mi-8BT (Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons). Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Russian_Border_Guard,_RF-23162,_Mil_Mi-8BT_(17432344646).jpg
Russian Border Guard, RF-23162, Mil Mi-8BT (Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons). Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Russian_Border_Guard,_RF-23162,_Mil_Mi-8BT_(17432344646).jpg

This is not the first time the Russians have been aggressive towards their European neighbors in the past few months since their invasion of Ukraine started on February 24. The Estonian Defense Minister stated that these trespassing violations of the Russians have happened multiple times in the recent days, seemingly testing the Estonian military and government of their response.

“Getting over the border with a helicopter cannot be a mistake – there have been multiple examples in recent days,” Salm said. “Beside the border actions, there have been provocative actions flying very near the vicinity of the border in the last days.”

Salm also reported that Russia has been testing and simulating missile strikes, a move eerily similar to the “military exercises” that took place with Belarus prior to the invasion of Ukraine. Salm was appalled at this as he could not believe it was real life. This is because Estonia is a member of NATO, which makes it militarily covered by Article V, the most salient provision from the defense alliance which states that “an attack on one is an attack to all.”

Why Are the Russians Poking NATO?

The golden question for this article is, “Why are the Russians poking NATO?” Thou shall not poke the (Russian) bear, but why are they doing this when it does not make any sense for them to do so?

From a military strategy perspective, it makes zero sense why Russia is testing the patience of NATO countries. Many military analysts have stated that they are currently in a stalemate with Ukraine as the fighting intensifies in the east, specifically in Severodonetsk. SOFREP has also covered Russia’s military-industrial complex slowly crumbling under Western sanctions.

For instance, a report from SOFREP last May indicates that there have been massive layoffs and low wages within their military-industrial complex as they can no longer produce various military equipment. This is because the Russian military is highly reliant on foreign-made components for their weapons, vehicles, tanks, aircraft, and vessels among others. Even worse, most of these foreign components were imported from Ukraine, the country they have been bombing for the past 4 months. A study published by the University of Zilina actually determined that the Russian defense industry was 80% to 85% reliant on foreign components.

This led to their primary tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod stopping production back in March due to a lack of foreign parts, and their shipbuilder Vostochnaya Verf in Vladivostok also shutting down because they no longer have the parts and financial backing to keep up production. The Ulyanovsk Mechanical Plant responsible for making surface-to-air missiles (SAM) for the Russian forces had also shut down due to sanctions.

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So, if they had lost so many men to the Ukrainian war, then why poke the biggest metaphorical bear of them all – NATO. Your guess is as good as ours, but if they’re not careful and “accidentally” launch a missile into any of these NATO countries, then they should prepare for what firepower NATO can bring to the table.

They’ve violated multiple countries’ territory for the past couple of months. A few days ago, an unidentified Russian warship violated Denmark’s territorial waters near the island of Christiansø – enraging the Danish government. Note that Denmark is one of the founding members of NATO.

Last May, a Russian spy plane was seen over both Danish and Swedish airspace. There’s absolutely no reason for them to go into these countries’ territories as they can monitor how far they are from these borders, or can they? SOFREP has also reported that Russian fighter jets had commercial Garmin GPS units taped to their dashboards, with multiple Russian fighter jets squads receiving crowdfunded tools for the maintenance of their planes.

French Paratroops Hold Military Drills in Estonia

The Russians should sleep with one eye open as the French Armed Forces are in Estonia also holding a surprise military drill of their own just a few days after they violated Estonian airspace.

French Paratroopers conducting operation Thunder Lynx over Estonia (NATO Joint Force Command Brunssum - JFCBS). Source: https://twitter.com/NATOJFCBS/status/1539566098063958016
French Paratroopers conducting operation Thunder Lynx over Estonia (NATO Joint Force Command Brunssum – JFCBS). Source: https://twitter.com/NATOJFCBS/status/1539566098063958016

The French reportedly deployed some 100 paratroopers from the 11th Airborne Brigade to Estonia in an airborne operation called the “Thunder Lynx.” This surprise drill was reported to be an act of “strategic solidarity” against Russia, which is their next-door neighbor.

The exercises come just before NATO’s 2022 Summit to be held in Madrid, Spain, where the alliance will be discussing further steps to help Ukraine against the Russians as the war drags on for its 5th month. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to address the conference via video call as their country braces for the long haul of firefights in the east.