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The Russians Are Coming: Estonia's National Militia

VICE News follows Estonia's growing defense militia as it takes part in a combat training exercise, designed to help protect the country's sovereignty from potential aggressors.

Since Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict in 2014, nearby Baltic states have been on high alert. Estonia, the smallest country in the region, signed a military equipment deal worth 138 million euros ($147 million) last December — the largest procurement in its history.

The country also has a growing militia, known as the Estonian Defense League, made up of 15,000 volunteers. They take part in war scenario exercises, with many of the members keeping firearms of their own at home. Should Estonia's sovereignty be threatened, the militia will be called upon to defend it at all costs.


The organization's membership has risen by 10 percent since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, partly based on national Estonian fears that Russia will attempt to breach its eastern border. NATO has increased its fighter jets and ground troops in the country, as a show of what they say is support to its ally, yet Russia has claimed this is "provocative" and held its own military exercises near the border.

VICE News follows 800 members of the Estonian Defense League on a combat training exercise to find out how they are preparing for a possible confrontation. We also meet with US NATO air support and speak to ethnic Russians in the Estonian border city of Narva.

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