Going one step further in its relations with Russia, the Estonian Foreign Ministry confirmed the expulsion of the Russian Ambassador to his country, to which the Russian Ministry responded by ordering the Estonian Ambassador to leave Russia, no later than 7 February. The severance of diplomatic relations, i.e. the closure of embassies, constitutes the last step before going to war.
This is the latest round in a conflict that began with the expulsion of Russian diplomats purportedly to “achieve parity” between the staff of the Russian and Estonian embassies (a total of 8 diplomats and 15 posted workers), when in reality it was a retaliatory measure following the Russian military intervention in Ukraine. Then Russia “reciprocated” by expelling Estonian diplomats from the St. Petersburg and Pskov consulates.
In December 2022, the Central Bank of Estonia began releasing to the public, with the agreement of the European Central Bank, a 2-euro coin that was minted in July, commemorating the independence of Ukraine. On the flip side, the coin brandished a Nazi slogan. Indeed, on 30 June 1941, the “integral nationalist” Stepan Bandera had proclaimed the independence of Ukraine with the backing of the Nazis.
On 23 January 2023, Tallinn announced the transfer of €113 million in military aid to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, including “all of the FH-70 155mm howitzers”, in addition to 122-mm D-30 howitzers, artillery shells and Carl Gustaf M2 anti-tank grenade launchers.
Since 9 January, Estonia has been contemplating extending its “exclusive maritime zone” by creating a “contiguous maritime zone” within which its coast guards would be able to board any vessel. Given the narrowness of the Baltic Sea, Tallinn would thus be blocking, in breach of international law, entrance and exit points of the port of St. Petersburg, the second largest city in Russia.
In 1939, the Soviet Union tried to negotiate with Finland a way to protect Leningrad (present-day Saint Petersburg), from a Nazi invasion launched from the Gulf of Finland islands, but the Finns dismissed the Soviet concern. With its back to the wall, the USSR invaded part of the Finnish coast (“Winter War”), which was seized upon by the West to exclude it from the League of Nations (predecessor of the current UN).
Taking its cue from Estonia, Lithuania announced that it would be expelling the Russian ambassador.