On 5 September, operatives of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) illegally entered the territory of the Republic of Estonia, a member of NATO and the European Union, and kidnapped by force an officer of the Internal Security Service (ISS) of Estonia.
The facts we know today tell us the officer was definitely on the Estonian side of the border, and he was waiting for his supposed informant to show up and give him information on a case he was working on. The case had nothing to do with espionage, but was rather about cross-border criminal activity and contraband. Moreover, the ISS is Estonia’s internal security service, which means rather than spying on Russia it deals with issues that threaten Estonian national security inside Estonia’s borders.
Not political? Not provocative?
The Russian authorities, of course, see it differently. They claim the Estonian officer was arrested on the Russian side of the border, and he is suspected of espionage. He was taken to Moscow, charged in court, detained for at least two months, and, if convicted, faces 10-20 years in a Russian jail. And even though Russia’s own laws say that when a foreigner is arrested on Russian soil, the foreigner’s country’s authorities have to be notified within 12 hours, such notice was given to Estonia only on 8 September, and only a day after that was the kidnapped officer finally allowed to meet with Estonian representatives.