Estonia and Finland discussed missile plans that would close the Baltic Sea to Russia, Tallinn says
Tallinn and Helsinki have discussed the integration of coastal robotic batteries that would enable the two NATO members to block the Russian fleet in the Gulf of Finland, Estonia’s defense minister announced on Friday. This would turn the Baltic Sea into a “NATO internal seas”, the official said, echoing comments previously made by Polish and Lithuanian leaders.
“We must integrate our coastal defenses. The flight range of Estonian and Finnish missiles is greater than the width of the Gulf of Finland.” Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur told the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti.
Finland’s MTO85M coastal missiles have a range of over 100 kilometers. The bay is about 82 kilometers across from Helsinki to Tallinn. Estonia plans to buy Israeli Blue Spear missiles later this year, which have a range of nearly 300 kilometers.
“The Baltic Sea will be NATO’s internal sea when Finland and Sweden have joined NATO. Compared to what it is today, the situation is changing.” Pevkur said, adding that the two countries will then be able to close the sea to the Russian fleet if needed.
Finland and Sweden’s application to NATO was met with the greatest enthusiasm by Poland and the former Soviet republics on the Baltic Sea. After the alliance’s summit in Spain at the end of June, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics both said they hoped the Baltic Sea would become a “NATO Lake.”
Pevkur said he also discussed airspace with his Finnish counterpart, although he dodged Iltaleht’s question about whether the US will deploy its F-35 fighter jets to Estonia.
“For me, this is an airspace” Pevkur added. “Finnish airspace cannot be protected if Estonian airspace is not protected at the same time, and vice versa. Fighter aircraft pass the 80 kilometer wide Gulf of Finland in minutes.”
Estonia has been one of the most outspoken NATO members in calling for a confrontation with Russia. On Thursday, Tallinn announced that it would do so prohibit entry to Russians with EU Schengen visas starting next week, and Destroy all Soviet-era monuments “As soon as possible.”