Target: Estonia – Britain’s nuclear plan for Tallinn, Tartu and Viljandi By Chris Glew

October 17th, 2013 → 4:23 pm @


I will never forget the first time I saw a Vulcan bomber take-off. Standing next to the runway at RAF Boscombe Down (as it then was), wearing ear protectors far too large for my small ears, I watched its majestic and graceful frame ascend into the sky with a dexterity not normally seen in heavy bombers. I was awestruck. Despite the Vulcan having already retired six years before, it was (and still is) chilling to think of the destruction these aircraft might have unleashed on the world had the chess-like brinkmanship of the Cold War played out differently.

During the 1960ies, the Vulcan bomber formed the backbone of the British nuclear fleet and, at any given moment, a certain number were at a state of permanent readiness. In times of heightened tension, they could be airborne within two minutes – the shortest warning given of a Soviet nuclear attack was estimated to be three and a half minutes. Once airborne, they would have flown at over 40,000 feet over the North Sea to southern Norway until they reached the “positive release line”, beyond which they would not fly unless a given a positive command to do so.

Once this invisible line was crossed, the bombers would fly around the coast of neutral Sweden until they were over the island of Gotland where they would split up and head for their individual targets in the Soviet Union. In the first set of strikes, three bombers would have been dispatched to attack Tallinn, Tartu and Viljandi.

While Estonia was an unwilling member of the Soviet Union, from a military perspective it was a legitimate target in the event of a Soviet nuclear first-strike attack on the UK or its NATO allies. Extensively militarised and part of the Baltic Military District, it was home to at least six air interception squadrons, heavy bombers and units of the Strategic Rocket Forces.

The British Vulcans were armed with Blue Steel stand-off missiles (“stand-off” meaning they could be deployed at a safe distance for the Vulcan to be able to escape the resultant explosion) which had an explosive yield of approximately 1.1 megatons. In comparison, “Little Boy”, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, had an explosive yield of just 0.16 megatons.

There is no doubt that the effects of these strikes on Estonia would have been devastating. Approximately 350,000 people would have been killed just from the explosion itself. If you factor in the human cost of nuclear fallout for the surviving population (had there been one), this figure can be safely doubled. Fallout from the bomb dropped on Tallinn would also have reached Helsinki and Southern Finland.

Simultaneously, nuclear weapons would have been dropped on strategic targets in Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and, of course, Russia. The scale of devastation would have been catastrophic.

So next time you’re are on a plane, enjoying the sights of Estonia and the Baltic Sea from the air, remember this article and try to imagine the view with the terrifying overlay of nuclear fallout and mushroom clouds.



Moscow desires Russian missile shield over the Baltic States, Finland, Poland, Sweden, and Norway

July 6th, 2013 → 2:05 pm @

As reported by Estonia World, Russia still wants to avoid elements of NATO’s anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence in close vicinity and proposes to the Alliance to divide Europe into responsibility areas, the Second Investigation Department under Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defence, in charge of military intelligence, said in a 2012 report on threats to national security.

“Despite the publicly-declared aspiration to cooperate with the US and NATO, including the area of anti-missile defence, Russia’s main goal remain unchanged; i. e., to avoid the deployment of NATO’s anti-aircraft and anti-missile elements on the territory bordering Russia. Russia suggests to NATO to divide Europe into sectors of anti-missile responsibility,” the report reads.

The report includes a map showing the Baltic States, Finland and large parts of Poland, Sweden and Norway as “a territory covered by Russia’s anti-missile elements.”

The explanation in Russian says that “the deployment of NATO’s anti-missile objects in this territory poses threats to our strategic nuclear capabilities.”

“If this proposal is implemented, the Baltic States and part of the Polish territory would fall under ‘Russia’s responsibility area’; i. e., NATO would have to hand over to this country part of its commitments to ensure security of its member countries, and the Alliance’s actions would be limited in the region. Currently, Russia is actively developing its anti-aircraft and anti-missile system, near the border with NATO. The system is already capable of detecting and destroying air targets several hundred kilometres from the Russian border, including the airspace of NATO member countries,” the document states.

NATO representatives have said on numerous occasions they would not agree with Russia’s proposal to divide Europe into sectors and would not sign with Russia any agreements limiting the Alliance’s use of its weaponry.

My footnote: So, what’s the different between the desires of the current Russian government and the secret pact dividing Europe in half signed by Molotov of the Soviet Union and Ribbentrop of Nazi Germany on August 23rd, 1939? That pact was the prelude to the start of WW II. Do we want a repeat performance?


1941 Soviet Deportations in the Baltic Nations

May 22nd, 2013 → 1:44 pm @

In May 1941, the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Soviet Government adopted a joint directive “On the measures to cleanse Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian SSR of anti-Soviet, criminal and socially dangerous element”.  Security forces were directed to repress five categories of inhabitants of these countries, which had been occupied by the Soviet Union in June 1940 on the basis of the August 23, 1940 Stalin-Hitler Pact :

  1. activists of the “counter-revolutionary parties” as well as members of anti-Soviet, nationalistic and “White Guard” organizations;
  2. Former policemen and prison officials;
  3. former big land-owners, factory-owners and civil servants;
  4. former Army officers;
  5. the criminal element

These “measures” meant arresting all people belonging to those extremely arbitrary and ambiguous categories, sentencing them to 5-8 years in forced labour camps and then to 20 years of exile in the remotest parts of the Soviet Union.  All their property was to be confiscated.  The term “Counter-revolutionary parties” included all non- Communist political parties, the term “anti-Soviet and nationalistic organizations” all NGO-s and patriotic formations. 

All family members of the persons belonging to the first four categories were destined to 20 years of exile along with the confiscation of their property.  The same measures applied to any family whose head of household had gone into hiding. 

About 50.000 Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian nationals fell victim to the June 14th, 1941 social cleansing which, it is important to note, was carried out in peacetime.  The deportees were transported in cattle cars for thousands of kilometres and deposited as virtual prisoners in Soviet Siberia and the Far North to face hunger, cold and forced labour in primitive conditions.  Men were separated from their families and directed to prison camps where many of them were executed or died of hunger and exhaustion.  The confiscated property of the deportees was never restored by the Soviet authorities.  Most of those who finally managed to return to their homelands suffered social and economic discrimination for decades.


Lessons from History

April 24th, 2013 → 3:08 pm @

“What experience and history teach us is that people and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deducted from it.” G.W.F. Hegel


Economic Woes!

February 18th, 2013 → 12:21 pm @

Study: a third of residents consider leaving Estonia by Toomas Hõbemägi

37% of Estonian residents have considered the possibility of leaving Estonia in the last six months, shows a new study by Turu-uuringute AS, writes Eesti Päevaleht.

According to the study that was commissioned by the paper, the majority of respondents who said that they have been considering leaving Estonia, said that it was because of work.

Studies or family issues were notably less important as reasons to leave Estonia.

One interesting aspect that was shown in the survey was that it is not only the poorest that are considering leaving Estonia because the interest was shown up by more or less in all income groups.

Somewhat surprisingly, people who earn more than 650 euros a month net and could be considered relatively wealthy were equally interested in job opportunities abroad.


Estonia to keep ex-Soviet military sites as tourist attractions

February 2nd, 2013 → 6:59 pm @

“Estonia will keep some of the abandoned Soviet-era military sites on its territory as historical legacy and potentially as tourist attractions, the Estonian television reported.

Culture experts discussed on Tuesday during a meeting at the Museum of Estonian Architecture the creation of a database categorizing the hundreds of ex-Soviet military installations in order to determine their historical value and importance as potential tourism venues.

“There are opinions that all traces of the hateful Soviet legacy in Estonia must be wiped out. However, we must widen our historical vision,” Leele Välja, the director of the museum said. “We cannot keep silent about these periods or pretend they never existed.”

The participants of the meeting also agreed that some of the facilities, especially the abandoned missile bases and storages for nuclear warheads could become ‘magnets’ for tourists after repairs.

The controversy over the post-World War II period when Estonia was part of the Soviet Union remains a sore point in Russian-Estonian relations.

The Estonian authorities claim that their country was occupied by the Soviet Union along with Latvia and Lithuania between 1945 and 1991, while the Russian government and its state officials insist that incorporation of the Baltic states was in accordance with international law and gained de jure recognition by the agreements made in the Yalta and Potsdam conferences and by the Helsinki Accords.”


For U.S. Diplomat, Culture Shock after Estonia Stint

November 20th, 2012 → 12:43 pm @

A U.S. ambassador returned home after decades abroad to disappointingly observe that his country was less technologically developed than one of Europe’s smallest states kept for decades behind the Iron Curtain.

Michael C. Polt is back in the U.S. after a 35-year diplomatic career. He most recently served as the U.S. ambassador to Estonia, where documents are signed electronically and wireless Internet is available almost everywhere, for free.

So I did spend two and a half hours at my local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in order to get my car license plates – something I should have been able to do by inserting my ID card into a license plate vending machine similar to an ATM in about 2 minutes,” Mr. Polt wrote in his blog. “Of course my gripe is not simply about waiting in line for a government service or even slow or expensive Internet access. It is my concern that what should be America’s leadership as a modern, agile, and innovative society is in a bit of a rut.“

Mr. Polt says that government services in the U.S. are much more old-fashioned than they should be in the 21st century and argues that in Estonia people have a comfortable relationship with their government because they spend very little time dealing with bureaucracy.

“Most services can be obtained sitting in a comfortable easy chair at home with a laptop, tablet or smartphone, while enjoying a favorite beverage,” Mr. Polt wrote. When returning to the U.S., he experienced that Internet access is slower and more expensive.

“In Estonia, broadband wireless access throughout the country—at little or no cost—is a given,” he wrote. “Internet is a utility, as universally available and affordable as water, electricity and indoor plumbing. We still grit our teeth paying a hefty charge for slow Internet access in top hotels in the country that invented the Internet!”

When talking about cyber security, Mr. Polt admits it is a difficult subject in the U.S. because people feel uncomfortable even thinking about a “national ID card” and a government-run database of people, both of which exist in Estonia.

“I readily share our wariness of ‘big brother’. But I have concluded that big brother already exists in multiple databases that all too readily share information to make big brother larger and more unpredictable than any single, user monitored and legally secured personal identity system would,” Mr. Polt wrote. “My friends in Estonia repeatedly demonstrated to me the utility of their ID cards as well as the electronic fingerprints they were able to monitor of those who had accessed their data, including even the police.”


Estonia offers new assistance to Syrian refugees

October 3rd, 2012 → 9:42 pm @

(WNN) United Nations ESTONIA: Estonia’s Foreign Ministry is supporting Syrian refugees in Jordan with 50 000 euros through the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated today that the ongoing conflict in Syria has strongly influenced the situation in it neighbouring countries, which have to handle a growing influx of refugees. “As a result of violence and a very difficult humanitarian situation, hundreds of thousands of people have fled from Syria to Jordan, as well as to Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq. The international community must show its solidarity by supporting the countries that are receiving refugees,” said Foreign Minister Paet. The UNHCR has warned that if the violence in Syria does not abate by the end of the year the number of people that have fled to neighbouring countries to escape the war could reach to 710 000. The European Union is also increasing the humanitarian aid funds allocated for helping refugees.

According to the Jordanian government, currently over 200 000 refugees have arrived in Jordan from Syria. Jordan has asked the international community for help in dealing with the Syrian refugees arriving in the country and resolving the most urgent issues – access to food, clean water and other necessary items, as well as access to health care services, electricity and gas supplies, and education. The growing number of Syrian refugees over the past few months has put a huge burden on Jordan’s resources and social services in a country that has already been affected by the global economic crisis and the events of the Arab Spring.

The Syrian crisis has been going on since spring of 2011 and is growing worse every day. Two and a half million people have already been affected by the crisis and over 30 000 have perished. The number of internally displaced persons in Syria has increased to 1.2 million and there are 304 000 Syrian refugees seeking aid in neighbouring countries. Three-fourths of the Syrian refugees registered by the UNHCR are women and children.

Estonia has already given humanitarian aid to Syria on two occasions this year – 50 000 euros through the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the Syrian Emergency Response Fund and 50 000 euros through the International Committee of the Red Cross.


A Perfect Storm

August 23rd, 2012 → 2:44 pm @

Storms are an unavoidable part of every mariner’s life and we experienced our fair share of them. One of the severest storms that we encountered was in the Atlantic. Dabaibe was fully loaded with coal and headed south towards Gibraltar. We had not quite passed the Bay of Biscay when the wind grew to gale force from the west and the swells began to grow. Before nightfall, thirty to forty foot waves were breaking over our decks, threatening to tear our hatch covers off. 

As the storm grew even more intense, we had to abandon our southerly course because it became too dangerous to take on the ravaging sea from our starboard side. The Captain ordered the ship to be turned west into the wind and its speed reduced. We would simply try to ride out the storm and worry about going in the right direction after the seas calmed down.

Dabaibe looked so insignificantly small among the towering white capped mountains of water around us. As she would reach the crest of a wave, almost pointing directly up in the air, she would then suddenly plunge her bow straight down and bury it in the base of the next oncoming wave. During the course of these gargantuan up and down motions the ship would shudder from stem to stern as the propeller would momentarily leave the water. Also the vessel’s bottom plates would creak ominously as she was caught between two waves which were trying to break her in two.

Even the most experienced and hardiest members of our crew were extremely concerned.  We all hoped that the forty-eight-year-old freighter would somehow stay in one piece and keep us alive at least during the remaining hours of darkness.  She continued to quiver and groan throughout the night but remained intact.  At daybreak the sea’s furor began to subside enabling us to change course and resume our original heading towards Gibraltar.


A New Homeland—Part III

July 20th, 2012 → 3:15 pm @

Everyone on board was emotionally overcome and some even had tears in their eyes as we gazed at the Statue of Liberty and the spectacular skyline of Manhattan. Our journey, however, wasn’t yet complete. After checking through Immigration we were given two train tickets to Albany, New York and before midnight we departed from Grand Central Station for northern New York State. As the train rumbled northward through the night we were disappointed in not being able to see the countryside that we were passing through.

Father and I arrived in Albany about three o’clock in the morning. A very warm and friendly man in his forties met us at the station. He led us to his car, a 1938 Chevrolet, and we drove off into the night. About an hour and a half later we pulled into a desolate farmyard, after having traveled along a dirt road for the last couple of miles. This was home, somewhere near Grand Gorge, about sixty miles from Albany.

Our driver escorted us to the porch of an old two-story run-down farmhouse and opened the door that led into a poorly lit and unkempt living room. He then, very politely, introduced us to the three people who lived there and who had obviously been anxiously awaiting our arrival.

The owner of the farm was a man about my father’s age and he welcomed us with a broad grin and a hardy handshake. Both of his legs were missing below the knee and he was sitting in a dilapidated wheelchair. He would later tell us that his legs were amputated because of bone cancer. Next, his elderly mother nearby, confined to an old wheelchair as well, greeted us warmly.  One of her legs below the knee was also missing due to the ravages of bone cancer. Behind the owner’s wheelchair stood a short, stooped-over fellow who appeared to be in his late twenties. He had a half-smiling confused look on his face and remained silent. We would soon discover that he was severely mentally challenged.

All three of the people we were being introduced to appeared to need a bath and a change of clothing. To say the least, it was a disillusioning beginning. Nevertheless, we were still happy to be in the United States and too tired to be much concerned about anything else at that moment. 

As the little guy was about to show us to our bedroom on the second floor, our driver bid us farewell and quickly disappeared into the night. That was even more disappointing for me. He was a very likable individual and I’d hoped that he’d also end up being a member of the household. 

The next morning, only after a couple of hours of sleep, I looked out of our bedroom window and was flabbergasted by the spectacular view of the countryside surrounding the farm. The rolling hills, meadows, and woodlands in the bright sunlight were much more impressive than I’d anticipated. The man who’d brought us here from Albany was also back. Maybe things weren’t as bad as they seemed before daybreak.

After breakfast in a dingy, fly-infested kitchen, Father was given an old pair of coveralls and shown his chores around the farm. He was also told that his wages would be sixty-five dollars a month, plus room and board. The sad fact was that from then on Father worked from dawn until dusk every day with limited help from me, trying to run a thirty-head dairy farm.

There was no powered machinery. The cows were milked by hand, and the hay for the winter was mowed, raked, and pulled into the barn with the use of two horses. Father got some help from the mentally-challenged fellow, but his time was primarily devoted to taking care of the two invalids.  Occasionally our driver friend would stop by and help, especially with the mowing and storing of hay, but most of the time it was up to Father to get the work done. 

To add to the discomfort, there was no indoor plumbing except for the running water in the kitchen. We took our baths in a small stream in back of the farmhouse. It was a good thing we’d arrived in the middle of the summer.  What would we do in the middle of winter? Finally, I don’t recall meeting any neighbors from the surrounding area. Our employers seemed to have few friends. Down deep we were determined to stick it out.