Estonia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the accused Moscow of a “revengeist policy” after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comments on the history of the Estonian city of Narva. The Baltic state has called the Russian ambassador, Vladimir Lipaev, on the issue.
“Undersecretary Rein Tammsaar, who met with the ambassador, expressed regret over President Putin’s statement, including his comments on the Estonian city of Narva,” a statement issued by the Estonian ministry on Friday added that such statements were “completely unacceptable” at 1 p.m. a time when Russia was “trying to destroy Ukraine’s statehood …”, apparently with reference to Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.
Tallinn’s anger was drawn by the Russian president’s meeting with young entrepreneurs and inventors earlier this week, in which he referred to Russia’s history under its 18th-century ruler Peter I, also known as Peter the Great. The first Russian emperor, Peter I, waged a decades-long war against Sweden over some territories in the Baltics, including where the Russian city of St. Petersburg is located.
Narva, currently an Estonian city on the border with Russia, was one of the targets of this war. The city functioned as an important Russian trading port in the Baltics as early as the 16th century for several decades before it was seized by the Swedes and became part of the Swedish kingdom for about a century. Peter I managed to take it back.
Speaking about the Russian emperor’s war efforts, Putin said that he “did not take anything from Sweden” but took back the Russian countries and added that the same applies in particular to Narva.
After being seized by Russians in 1704, the city remained part of the Russian Empire until 1917 and officially became part of Estonia in 1920 according to a treaty between Estonia and the Soviet government. Estonia itself then became part of the Soviet Union in 1940.
Estonia’s Soviet past is still a source of tension between Tallinn and Moscow as its officials increasingly try portray their previous membership of the Union as “Soviet occupation”.
Russia’s military operation in Ukraine has further strained relations between the two nations. On Friday, the Estonian Foreign Ministry said that “threats of ‘de-Nazification’ and ‘demilitarization’ against other countries are dangerous and irresponsible” and accused Moscow of “imperialist ambitions” and “falsification of history”.
Moscow has so far not responded to the statements from Tallinn.