(p. A4) Since the Ukraine war, Estonia has stepped up training for members of the Estonian Defense League, teaching them how to become insurgents, right down to the making of improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.s, the weapons that plagued the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another response to tensions with Russia is the expansion of a program encouraging Estonians to keep firearms in their homes.
. . .
(p. A10) Encouraging citizens to stash warm clothes, canned goods, boots and a rifle may seem a cartoonish defense strategy against a military colossus like Russia. Yet the Estonians say they need look no further than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to see the effectiveness today, as ever, of an insurgency to even the odds against a powerful army.
Estonia is hardly alone in striking upon the idea of dispersing guns among the populace to advertise the potential for widespread resistance, as a deterrent.
Of the top four nations in the world for private gun ownership — the United States, Yemen, Switzerland and Finland — the No. 3 and 4 spots belong to small nations with a minutemen-style civilian call-up as a defense strategy or with a history of partisan war.
“The best deterrent is not only armed soldiers, but armed citizens, too,” Brig. Gen. Meelis Kiili, the commander of the Estonian Defense League, said in an interview in Tallinn, the capital.
The number of firearms, mostly Swedish-made AK-4 automatic rifles, that Estonia has dispersed among its populace is classified. But the league said it had stepped up the pace of the program since the Ukraine crisis began. Under the program, members must hide the weapons and ammunition, perhaps in a safe built into a wall or buried in the backyard.
For the full story, see:
ANDREW E. KRAMER. “TURI JOURNAL; Wary of Russia’s Ambitions, Estonia Prepares a Nation of Insurgents.” The New York Times (Tues., NOV. 1, 2016): A4 & A10.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date OCT. 31, 2016, and has the title “TURI JOURNAL; Spooked by Russia, Tiny Estonia Trains a Nation of Insurgents.”)