"When you talk to a leader like [President Putin], and obviously we need to talk with Russia, then you need to talk from a position of strength and unity and determination. Because any sign of hesitation is interpreted in the Kremlin as weakness to be exploited," Estonian foreign minister Sven Mikser said in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.
Mikser accused Russia of launching "two military operations against its neighbors in a matter of 10 years: in 2008 against Georgia and more recently against Ukraine. It's a pretty scary pattern if you think about it. In 21st century Europe you see a country using military means to achieve its political goals – with apparently very little hesitation."
According to the official, the recent uptick in NATO drills on Russia's border have been "pretty modest and definitely not escalatory…[it's] the way to preserve peace."
Estonia, Mikser said, has "developed pretty good defenses" against these threats.
Learning about the Estonian foreign minister's remarks, Russian internet users couldn't get over his "position of strength" comment.
Не будет никакого прорыва. С нами Эстония решила разговаривать с позиции силы.— Николай Черезов (@Nick_Cherez) 30 апреля 2018 г.
"That's it, there won't be any breakthrough now. Estonia has decided to speak to us from a position of strength."
ВВС Эстонии подняты по тревоге pic.twitter.com/4DqOa0J4SY— ОколоНоля (@Go7VBEdinhanq87) 30 апреля 2018 г.
"The Estonian Air Force has been scrambled."
Срочная новость! Кремль в панике. Эстония заявила, что с Россией будет общаться с позиции силы.— Циник (@Zol_ter) 30 апреля 2018 г.
"Urgent news! The Kremlin is in a panic. Estonia has declared that it will speak to Russia from a position of strength."
Я только кофеварки побаиваюсь, а вот миксера нет.— Отец Мельдоний (@Sars_78) 30 апреля 2018 г.
"I'm only afraid of coffee makers, not Miksers."
In 2008, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili launched a military operation against the breakaway region of South Ossetia, which caused the deaths of Russian peacekeepers and prompted a Russian military response. The Russian military operation blunted the Georgian attack, and South Ossetia and Abkhazia declared their independence. Kiev has repeatedly accused Russia of secretly sending troops to Eastern Ukraine to participate in Ukraine's ongoing civil war. Moscow has rejected the claims, pointing to a lack of any evidence suggesting Russian involvement.
Last year, following comments by Baltic state politicians about a Russian threat to the region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the "statements periodically heard from Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn that Russia threatens the identify of the Baltic countries and is hatching some aggressive intentions against them are absurd and absolutely unfounded."