Russia has been conducting simulated missile attacks on Estonia, the Baltic nations Defence Ministry claimed this week.

The mock strikes occurred during regularly planned military exercises currently under way in Russia, said Tiia Falk, international communications adviser for the Estonian Defence Ministry. Estonia summoned the Russian ambassador on Tuesday after a Russian Mi-8 helicopter crossed into its airspace with its transponders off.

The Baltic states region (Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia) on the eastern edge of the European Union has become a fraught flashpoint between Russia and the US-led military alliance.

Unlike Ukraine, Estonia is a member of NATO whose territory the Biden administration has vowed to defend in the event of an attack.

Recently Russian leaders have been threatening Estonia and its neighbours: On 10 June, President Vladimir Putin told a crowd in Moscow that he was following the example set by Czar Peter the Great’s 1704 conquest of Narva, a largely Russian-speaking town in Estonia.

He said: ‘Peter the Great didn’t conquer anything, he took back what had always belonged to us…It seems now it’s our turn to get our lands back.’

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said in an interview last week: ‘He’s talking about things that really resonate in the Russian public. Conquering territories, more territories, more riches.’

Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, has introduced a bill to revoke the independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; subjugated by the Soviet Union until 1991.

Last week, Lithuanian border guards began preventing the neighbouring Russian exclave of Kaliningrad from importing goods sanctioned by the EU. Russia’s Foreign Ministry threatened that there would be a serious response ‘to protect its national interests.’

NATO members will discuss boosting the number of troops and military equipment stationed in the region.