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Vigilant Estonia

May I present today’s useful parable from the Bible? Ten virgins, presumably enlisted for bridesmaid duties, are awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom. But with the time and date unspecified, five decide to take it easy, as he’ll probably not come any time soon. But five are wise, buying lamps and oil to be prepared. Lo and behold, the bridegroom comes, and the five foolish virgins are caught unprepared. Tough luck, say the wise virgins.

Without making any further theological interpretations of the current standoff between Russia and the West, I submit that Estonia is like one of the wise virgins. Long ago, essentially as soon as they gained independence, the Estonians started preparing for the day that might come—you never know—when Russia may show too much interest in their small nation. When other countries in the region cut defense budgets, Estonia stuck to the 2 percent of GDP prescribed by NATO. And now, as reported in Estonian media, the government has begun buying up land next to its border with Russia from private owners. Of the 99 individuals who own land along the border, the majority have already entered negotiations with the government.

Given NATO’s Article 5 it is, of course, unlikely that Russia would invade or annex Estonia. But if nothing else, the Estonian government will need the land for a gigantic military exercise that will take place in the country’s northeast—along the Russian border—in May. Involving 12,000 troops, the exercise will be Estonia’s biggest-ever. As the Boy and Girl Scouts say, “Be prepared.” 

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