We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Estonia takes centre stage as NATO carries out wargames along the Russian border

We're Going on a Bear Hunt Since gaining independence in 1991, Estonia has seen huge economic and technological advances. But underlying its prosperity is renewed concern about Russian occupation, 25 years after the end of the Soviet Union.
"If you don't want a war, prepare for a war", says Kirsten, one of thousands of reservists who signed up after Russia annexed Crimea. The setting of NATO's annual war games, Estonia has become symbolic of the growing divide between Russia and the West. Yet for many Estonians, the threat from Russia feels local and real, as Kirsten's friend Maria explains: "Russia is next door to Estonia, so then I thought, 'why not come to protect like our family or country or nation'". These two women are not old enough to remember the days of Soviet occupation, but many do. "I remember the Soviet times. I remember the Soviet Army and I don't want that back", Kaupo Karuse explains, "most of the world doesn't understand the cost of freedom". Professionally, Kaupo is a software consultant, a member of Estonia's thriving computing and tech economy. As well as preparing militarily, Estonia is pushing cyber defence to the limit after suffering cyber attacks - which many blamed on Russia. However, Estonia's Russian community play down any tension, as Vladimir Cherdakov says, "if anyone says that Russia is a provocateur, I don't believe it".

This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more info see our Cookies Policy