« STATEMENT on passage of FY16 Omnibus bill and Ukraine funding | Main | U.S. Presidential Candidates on Russia, Ukraine, and the Baltics »
Thursday
Dec102015

Andres Simonson: Estonians everywhere, make some шум (noise)

BY ANDRES SIMONSON IN OPINION · DECEMBER 1, 2015, ESTONIAN WORLD

If not maybe for a fortuitous NATO membership, is it too far fetched to imagine a Russian-backed war of aggression and influence in Estonia instead of Ukraine?

Шум is Ukrainian for noise, and Estonians need to make some.

It is wonderful to read about all the remarkable advances in Estonia’s recent past. Arvo Pärt wins another award in music. Estonian films generate buzz in the international community. Estonia is praised for a most competitive tax system. Heck, Estonians even invented the latest gruelling sport certainly poised to overtake football in global popularity – sauna marathons.

But what will it all mean if the Putin regime is continually given a pass to play the cold-blooded, calculating villain on the world stage? As if in a theatre, we watch the drama unfold from comfortable seats in the distance and merely assume an unidentified protagonist will appear to keep this band of anti-heroes from achieving their twisted ways.

But, there is no Luke Skywalker in sight to lead righteous Jedis to vanquish the malevolent emperor Putin-Palpatine. And besides, this is not a scripted screenplay where the author leads us into fictional turmoil only to raise our spirits during the last act when the clouds break and the sun shines brightly once again. This is tangible nonfiction at its worst. Regardless, do we even want a bloody battle as a remedy? Of course, reasonable folks don’t.

And that is why every Estonian, everywhere needs to make some noise. Not only altruistically to assist our friends and Western value counterparts in Ukraine, and by extension, liberal democracy as a whole. But, at the same time, because is it too far fetched to imagine the Russian backed war of aggression and influence spreading to Estonia, NATO membership notwithstanding?

Putin is the proverbial bully on the playground. He takes lunch money from one, and nobody says a peep. Then, with what little fear there was evaporating further still, he decides to trip the kid running for the swingset. Again, there’s not a teacher in sight to scold the goon. There is no fear of consequences, of reprisals. So, positively reinforced, he carries on with his ways. He invades Ukraine with soldiers and artillery, and concurrently, invades the world with misinformation to the contrary. He kidnaps an Estonian security official from sovereign territory, conveniently and embarrassingly timed with a visit to Estonia of a NATO-touting president, Barack Obama. Thumb to nose and fingers extended to his foreign counterparts, he grows bolder still.

This is not a sabre-rattling call for military action. Not necessary. Rather, this is a call for grassroots campaigning, for contacting political leaders to demand that they publically call the Ukrainian crisis what it is – a direct invasion by Russia. Demand their insistence for increased sanctions. Ensure they are willing to provide peripheral support to Western-aligned national Ukrainian reformers and foreign Ukrainian diaspora groups. Even if the rate of incoming Russian manufactured artillery shells has slowed of late, the Putin regime is fighting against Western democracy in much more subtle, but equally detrimental, ways.

Write to your local newspaper, or the like, and inform your fellow citizens of the undeniable dangers emanating from the shady interior rooms of the Kremlin. Participate or organise formal protests, because voices strengthen in numbers. Spread this post and other pertinent articles via social media. Yell out of an open window. Whatever works, just make some noise… loud enough that our political and philosophical allies in Ukraine hear us and the agents of Putin’s nefarious inner circle begin to take further notice.

Because applying pressure only works if the valve is fully open.

Notes:
  • If you’d like to read a powerful and transparent analysis on Putin’s actions in Ukraine, read the Atlantic Council report.
  • For US readers, visit the Estonian American National Council (EANC) website, which hosts a collection of articles regarding the Eastern European crisis.
  • Also for US readers, subscribe to news feeds issued by the Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC), which issues timely and informative action alerts. JBANC is also sponsoring a seminar on Baltic-Nordic security on 4 December in New York.
The opinions in this article are those of the author.