The Kremlin’s Alleged Man in Tallinn

On Sunday, 14 December, Interfax ran a claim from Russia’s federal security service FSB that an Estonian Internal Security Service (Kaitsepolitsei) official had been a Russian agent for 20 years. The individual, Uno Puusepp, was said to be one of the few former KGB officers to be hired by the Kaitsepolitsei’s technical division after Estonia regained its independence. Puusepp retired from the agency in 2011.

Rank-and-file citizens can never have complete closure regarding events involving two mutually hostile security services and an alleged traitor. Like a courtesan, only a traitor himself can say exactly what services were provided to which clients at what price. The whole truth will never come out.

Two things are important to bear in mind. One is that the FSB is trying to discredit Estonia and the Kaitsepolitsei in the eyes of the US, Sweden and Britain – all countries named in a news segment by the pro-Kremlin channel NTV (Russian state television) reporting on the case – but also among other NATO and EU members. Now, according to the most pessimistic scenario, the Kaitsepolitsei’s partners might be less willing to share intelligence information with Estonia. In a situation where Russia has been applying various non-military measures against its neighbours for some time – measures that the Kaitsepolitsei is responsible for countering – such a development would clearly be negative.

The other thing is that the Kaitsepolitsei must once again spend valuable time on damage control and tallying losses. All of this is time the agency could have spent on its main task. It should be noted that it has only been three months since counterintelligence officer Eston Kohver was abducted by the FSB, an operation that did even greater damage to the Kaitsepolitsei. The organization finds itself in a defensive position, seemingly one step behind the FSB’s initiatives. We hope that Estonia’s political leadership is able to maintain a united front and to continue providing the Kaitsepolitsei with the support it needs. Ultimately, in any struggle with Russian security services, casualties are inevitable.


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