Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 89

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) yesterday charged that "certain political forces in Estonia deliberately seek to aggravate relations with Russia" by channeling weapons to Russian criminal groups and "illegal armed formations," including Chechen, through Estonian intelligence and the "extremist organization" Kaitseliit. An official spokesman claimed that the FSB had uncovered the arms smuggling in an "antiterrorist" operation last month. Moreover, the spokesman claimed that the FSB had uncovered involvement of "top-ranking" Estonian officers, the intelligence service, and Kaitseliit in selling arms and explosives to the Irish Republican Army for use against British political leaders and "West European leaders" visiting Britain. (Itar-Tass, Western agencies, May 6)

The allegations bear hallmarks of a classical disinformation operation. The objective appears to be to increase the political pressures already being applied on Estonia by Russia’s mainstream government agencies, to attempt (however crudely) to draw a wedge between Estonia and its West European partners, and perhaps also to defuse the current spy scandal with Britain by asserting (however implausibly) a claim to British gratitude. Earlier this year there unconfirmed press stories said the IRA was seeking to buy weapons from Russian arms dealers operating out of Estonia. Kaitseliit (Defense League), which the FSB denounces as "extremist," is in fact an official organization playing a key role in Estonia’s defense while the national army is in its formative stage. The political judgments contained in the FSB’s allegations have yet to be disavowed by Russia’s civilian government agencies.

Crimea Observes "Constitution Day."