Estonian Defense

The modern history of Estonia's defense policies begins with a failure: the inability of the state to prevent annexation by the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the Second World War. Estonia had no choice in the matter; as a direct neighbor to Russia, it was firmly ensconced in the USSR's geographical and political sphere of control. For the next five decades, the Soviet Union dictated all policy for the small nation.

In 1991, Estonia regained its independence and everything changed. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a nation twice-occupied in the 20th Century, its first foreign policy measures were protective in nature. Although Estonia maintains its own military force, the realities of its small population mean it is not a powerful one. To compensate for this in the early 1990's, the state moved to form or join numerous international organizations, including the United Nations, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Council of Europe. Admission into the Council of Europe was considered a particular success, given the council's socio-economic and political standards. A follow-up success was seen in 2004, as Estonia joined the European Union. This push for security through integration has persisted within Estonia's defense policies into the current day, with the state being a prominent advocate of international cooperation.

In 2007, things changed for the nation's defense strategy once again, as Estonia fell victim to a series of cyber attacks. The attacks were crippling for a nation so technology-friendly it is referenced as the world's first e-nation. Both government and business sectors were heavily hit, along with the press. Although it has never been officially confirmed, Russia is believed to be behind the attacks; this is due to increased tension between Estonia and Russia in the wake of Estonia's aggressive efforts towards Westernization.

Unable to retaliate directly against Russia, Estonia turned its foreign policy focus instead towards cyber security. In fact, it has taken the lead in the matter, both proposing and ultimately hosting the Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence. Established in 2008, the Centre researches cyber defense strategies, develops international cyber doctrine, and trains NATO forces. It also acted as a primary force behind the re-envisioning of cyber threats as serious attacks against international security in NATO's Strategic Concept. No second large-scale attack has taken place, so there has been no occasion to test Estonia's advancements. However, some experts believe the technological advances and international re-prioritizing are the reason that no attack has occurred on a comparable scale.

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