Forget mines mounted on the side of the road in the Helmand province, Taliban snipers, and the danger of ambush with a fake Afghan police. And don’t be afraid of desperate suicide terrorists of the Islamic State (banned in Russia) or complex tribal relations and deep religious conflicts.
When about 200 Danish soldiers at the end of this and early next year will arrive in the small Estonian town of Tapa as part of the new “fist of NATO against an increasingly aggressive Russia”, they will have to wait a whole other danger. Years Danish units in distant parts of the world were afraid of bombs, bullets and mines while performing overseas assignments.
But now we are talking about the energetic Russian Internet trolls and Pro-Russian agents, who will try to create scandals around the Danish soldiers and their colleagues from other NATO countries that are supposed to guard the border of NATO to the East of Estonia.
This follows from the risk assessment Intelligence of the army, prepared in connection with the draft decision on the placement, which was yesterday presented by the government in Parliament. In the army intelligence provides, in part: “the Intelligence service of the army believes that the threat of abuse and intimidation campaigns against the Danish division will be high.”
Therefore, soldiers have to behave carefully with women of easy virtue, the so-called Russian sweet traps when soldiers and spies because of the beautiful women fall into a compromising situation. And they have to be careful with the local bullies, who can create provocation during the stay of the soldiers in Estonia.
This can be especially dangerous when soldiers get some free time to visit the Estonian capital Tallinn and University of Tartu, close to the small garrison town of Tapa.
And these concerns are not taken from the air, said the defence Minister Klaus yort Fredriksen (Claus Hjort Frederiksen) at the official opening of the so-called extended NATO presence on the territory, where he built the new barracks and will be teaching 100 kilometers in a straight line from the Russian border.
“Soldiers will be subjected to provocations and attempts to discredit their presence. The army leadership is working on how to exclude such risks,” said Klaus yort Fredriksen.
The defense Minister visited Tapa in Estonia in connection with the official beginning of the first phase of the presence of parts of NATO on the Russian border.
The first 800 British and 300 French soldiers will “stand guard” together with Estonian units, but for 2018 the Danes will change their French counterparts.
The Minister said that the Russian ability to disseminate false information and use social networking “intimidating”.
“They are capable and resourceful. They know the internal relations between the various NATO countries and can press on the sore spots,” said Klaus yort Fredriksen.
The defense Minister spoke about some of the episodes that occurred in February, when rumours were spreading about the Lithuanian girl who was raped by a German soldier of NATO units located in Lithuania.
“German soldiers are in Lithuania for the first time in a long time, and the Russians are trying to take advantage of it.”
In this particular case, the rumors were quickly refuted, but the commander of the NATO military Committee and head of intelligence services of Estonia warned after these rumors about Russian propaganda.
When the army leadership will find the first 200 soldiers, Klaus yort Fredriksen will give the generals to decide how the soldiers should be prepared for such risks. But it could be that they exit from the base would be in groups, avoiding certain areas and bars and were always together when leaving the base and going back.
More radical and difficult solution would be to Estonia adhered to the same rules about free time and alcohol, which exist in Afghanistan and Iraq that, among other things, will necessitate a number of additional measures and will make the job more expensive.
The chief of intelligence of Estonia Mikk Marran (Mikk Marran) reported in the British newspaper The Times that “this area will be 800 young British soldier. They will enter in the city from the barracks, and apparently a number of bars. We can’t exclude a fight provoked by the “other side” as we say in Estonia, and sweet traps and things like that.”
In Tapa Estonian defense Minister Margus Zahka (Margus Tsahkna) said at one press conference, most people’s support for the NATO mission, it is about 80% of the population, “but it will be about news and propaganda.”
“The only way to combat this is openness. We must be absolutely clear in our communication and to explain that NATO soldiers are here to meet Russian aggression. We must speak openly of what is right and what is wrong. I am confident that the soldiers know what they are doing, where they are and how they should behave”, he said.