"Estonia does not give in to the pressure of any foreign state in matters related to the impartial application of the law on the Estonian territory. As for Sputnik, the Estonian authorities apply, in accordance with the Estonian legal order, the EU sanctions policy, which was adopted, in particular, against a number of Russian citizens who supported the aggression against Ukraine," Reinsalu wrote on Facebook on Thursday.
On 18 December the Rossiya Segodnya news agency said that employees of Sputnik Estonia had received letters from the Baltic country’s Police and Border Guard Board that warned they would face criminal prosecution unless they severed their ties with the Moscow-based parent news agency by 1 January. The Estonian authorities cited the 2014 EU sanctions as a pretext for potential legal action. Rossiya Segodnya has insisted that it is not mentioned on any EU sanctions lists.
Sputnik and RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan has called on Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid to prevent the arrest of Sputnik Estonia employees. Moscow has also warned that a harsh response will follow if pressure on the journalists continues.
The situation around Sputnik Estonia has sparked an international reaction, with Harlem Desir, the head of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe media watchdog, urging Tallinn to "refrain from unnecessary limitations on the work of foreign media that can affect the free flow of information." Brussels, in turn, pledged to deal with the issue, adding that the implementation and enforcement of the EU's restrictive measures was the unique responsibility of member states.