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Estonia Is The Victim Of Russian Aggression, But One Republican Congressman Tells Them It's All "Nonsense"
3 years
Tracking Michael Flynn's Behavior

Several key figures in the Republican party and the Trump administration continue to downplay allegations that Russia interfered with US elections, or that the Trump andministration has alarming connections to the Russian government.

But one prominent Republican was a big fan of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin long before it was cool.

At a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Russian disinformation and "weaponization of information," Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California, downplayed the threat.

And he also dismissed the concerns of Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who was the president of Estonia from 2006 to 2016. During Ilves' tenure, Estonia, both a NATO member and a neighbor of Russia, was repeatedly the target of Russian aggression. While Estonia prospered, Russian disinformation campaigns tried to stir up ethnic tensions. Russian planes repeatedly violated Estonia's borders and airspace. A large troop presence is now located just across the border. Russian agents even crossed the border, kidnapped an Estonian border agent, and kidnapped him across the border, only later to trade him for Russian agents who had previously been arrested for interfering with Estonia's domestic affairs.

Rohrabacher, however, seems to think he knows more about Estonia's affairs than Ilves, and dismissed Ilves's comments.

Mother Jones reports:

"In order to get Russia," he said, "we are now…destabilizing our own democratic system here with that kind of nonsense."

When Rohrabacher asked Ilves to provide examples of Russian military aggression, the former president referred to the border incident. Rohrabacher was unimpressed: "So you had a situation of corruption at the border, one of your border guards disappeared. I mean military aggression? Has there been any cross-border, at all, military action on the part of the Russians in Estonia?"

"Well, we have constant violations of our border by military jets. That's one thing, and that's consistent," Ilves said, adding these incidents have "massively increased in the last four years."

Rohrabacher explained that he had visited the Baltic states after hearing stories of Russian military aggression and found "not one report of actual military aggression." He added that the United States has sent "our tanks up there, having B-52 mock raids on Russia, over Estonia, toward the Soviet capital, in the name of stopping Soviet military aggression that never existed. This has got to stop or we're going to end up in war."

A GOP congressman just spent 6 minutes defending Vladimir Putin

Dana Rohrabacher tries to give a history lesson to the former president of Estonia.

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Mar 11, 2017 00:46 (GMT)
Estonia has prospered since the end of the Cold War by rapidly undertaking political and economic reforms, and by investing in technology. The comparison between Russia and Estonia is pretty shocking:
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A tale of two cities: Estonia's Narva prospects while Russia's Ivangorod decays

That question was intended to sap Western support for its NATO ally, Estonia, and more generally for NATO countries neighbouring Russia and threatened by Putin's aggressive stance. But it had exactly the opposite effect, leading ever more people in the West to recognise that unless they were prepared to defend Narva, they would be destroying the Western alliance.

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Mar 11, 2017 00:41 (GMT)

Estonia, with a population of less than two million people, plays a major role in NATO's counterintelligence and cyber defense systems, but relies heavily on its much larger NATO allies for physical defense against the Russian military. Russia's claim that NATO's defense of Estonia is an aggressive action is just one of many false narratives spun by the Russian government.

And unfortunately, lots of these narratives have found a mouthpiece in the US House of Representatives.

-- James Miller