Staunton, April 14 – Since Putin began his war in Ukraine on February 24, Tallinn officials says, 113 Russian citizens have applied for Estonian citizenship, a three-fold increase in their number compared to the same period in 2021 and a dramatic increase from the first weeks of 2022 when only 38 Russian citizens applied.
Some of these applicants are recent arrivals from the Russian Federation, but many are those who have lived in Estonia for decades but who earlier took Russian citizenship rather than Estonian and who now want to be fully integrated in that Baltic country (news.err.ee/1608565087/russian-citizens-actively-applying-for-estonian-citizenship).
That is suggested by the conclusion of Estonian government experts who say that “more than half of the new citizens of the Republic of Estonia did not previously have citizenship of any country” – a reference primary to non-citizens in Estonia – and are now opting for Estonian citizenship in increasing numbers because that status gives them more opportunities and rights.
The Putin regime, committed as it is to the advancement of the Russian world, clearly hoped its moves in Ukraine would attract more ethnic Russians to its side; but the figures from Estonia show that it is having exactly the opposite effect and may in fact lead to the final consolidation of ethnic Russians there either with Russian citizenship or not into Estonian life.
To the extent that happens, what Putin is doing in Ukraine may achieve in weeks what those hoping for such integration have not managed in decades; and Russia as a result will lose yet another lever on that NATO and EU country because of its actions in Ukraine.