Cold War 2.0? Northern Europe and the threat from Russia
The threat should not be underestimated. In northern Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin's unpredictable behaviour is causing concern in former Soviet bloc countries such as Estonia, but also over in Sweden. Facing military intimidation, cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns, these countries accuse Russia of waging a "hybrid war" against the West. Since the conflict in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, they fear they are next in line. Our reporters went to find out more.
Estonia, home to a large Russian-speaking minority, is concerned about Moscow's territorial ambitions. The country can count on its NATO allies, but also on the 26,000 members of the Estonian Defence League, who are active and more than ready to fight. We were able to film one of their training sessions. Since the war in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, these young recruits are worried about Russia and have volunteered to swell the ranks of this paramilitary force, part of the country’s military.
The battle is also playing out in the media, as the founders of the Propastop website told us. Every day, they debunk the "fake news" broadcast by some Russian media outlets, and mainly targeted at Estonia’s Russian-speaking minority, which makes up around a quarter of the population. The annexation of Crimea has rekindled the issue of identity in Estonia and, since then, the government has launched initiatives to better integrate Russian speakers. We went to meet them in Narva, in the east of the country, a town located just a few dozen metres from the Russian border.
We also travelled to Sweden, which has completely reversed its military doctrine since 2015. The country has just reinstated compulsory military service and remilitarised the island of Gotland, a strategic location in the Baltic Sea. And for this ultra-connected country, cybersecurity has also become a national priority: the war is now playing out on the web, as demonstrated by victims of cyber attacks.