Thursday, January 5, 2017

Two New Estonian Novels Consider Two Very Different Outcomes of a War with Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 5 – In many countries around the world, those who want to talk about what the future may be like are turning to fiction to do so; and Estonian writers are no exception. Yesterday, Tallinn’s Postimees newspaper carried a review of two new novels by Leo Kunnas which offer two very different visions of what a war between Russia and Estonia would lead to.

            The two novels, “David” and “Goliath,” are both devoted to what Kunnas describes as “an upcoming war” in 2023 between Russia and the West, with the former postulating a victory by the West and the latter a defeat ( and

            In both, war begins at 8:51 am on September 23, 2023, when Russia launches a major attack on the Baltic countries, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.  And in both, this war is presented as “the only chance” an aging Vladimir Putin has to remain in power by whipping up patriotic sentiment by seeking to absorb new territories.

            But then the two books diverge. In “David,” Kunnas suggests that Russia begins the war because it is weak and the West is strong; and as a result, the war “ends just as suddenly as it began,” with Russian forces stopped on the eastern edge of Estonia and driven back almost everywhere else.

            In “Goliath,” on the other hand, Putin launches the war because Russia is strong and the West is weak. NATO is divided, it fails to pick up the allies it might have in a strong position, and as a result, Russia wins and Estonia is transformed into the Grand Duchy of Estonia, whose “tsar” is Vladimir Putin.

            According to the author, Postimees reports,  the scenario presented in “David” is “more fantastic” than the one offered in “Goliath.”  But it is clear that he has written these two novels as a warning and in the hopes that they will change attitudes about the need for the development of defense against Russia in the near future.

            Born in 1967, Kunnas was sentenced to a Soviet prison at the age of 16, an experience that became the subject of his first novel in 1990, The World of the Eternal Light. After Estonia regained its independence, he served in the Estonian Defense Forces rising to lieutenant colonel before resigning in 2007 and devoting himself full time to fiction and commentaries.

            In his writings, Kunnas has called for expanding Estonia’s reserve forces so that the country will be able to defend itself in a credible fashion before NATO forces arrive under the terms of Article 5 and insisted that Estonians recognize that Russia and no one else is the country’s chief enemy, something that isn’t ever going to change.

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