THE BLOG
23/02/2015 07:49 GMT | Updated 21/04/2015 06:59 BST

To Attack or Subvert Any One Nato Country Is to Attack Us All

The lessons of our grandfathers is that in foreign policy there needs to be some very clear red line. For those of us brought up in the post war world, we need continuously to assert that for us those red lines include the boundaries of every fellow NATO state.

In the mid-1980s in my capacity as a barrister I was asked to advise the Estonian embassy in London.

Estonia had become an independent country immediately after the First World War.

Estonia's independence was short lived.

In the early 1920s Estonia was invaded and subjugated as part of the Soviet Union.

However, independent Estonia had a number of embassies around the world including an embassy in London that continued to operate to look after the interests of Estonian citizens who are still abroad and Estonian shipping which had managed to escape Soviet clutches.

As the years passed the Ambassador and the staff at the Estonian Embassy in London had died and the Estonian community in London wanted to sell the building in Kensington because they no longer felt that it was affordable or manageable.

They had therefore come to me in the mid-1980s because they had been prevented from selling the embassy building because the Soviet Russian embassy in London at the time had registered a charge with the Land Registry on the Estonian Embassy claiming that Estonia was part of Russia and thus the Estonian Embassy belonged to them.

What to do?

I asked the library if they could dig out for me whatever books they had on Estonia.

This took a little time as Estonia didn't feature as a country on the bookshelves.

Eventually the librarians found a handful of books on Estonia tucked away and located in some annex filed under "Baltic States".

The books had been written in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

They told a terrible story of hundreds of thousands of Estonians being murdered, purged or deported by the Soviets and by Stalin.

The horrors of what had befallen countries such as Estonia at the hands of Russia had seemed to have been overlooked and forgotten

In later tragedies, war crimes and crimes against humanity that later occurred in the Second World War.

However for the victims of Estonia and the other Baltic states, there were no Nuremberg Trials.

I was shocked at what I read at what had befallen the people of Estonia and even more shocked that it all had seemed to have been completely forgotten in our collective memory and consciousness.

I decided that the best course of action was to take on the Soviet Embassy in their own terms of reference.

I advised my instructing solicitors that they should write to the Soviet Embassy in London and make it clear that we would be going to the High Court to challenge the validity of the caution that they had entered on the Land Registry, on the grounds that they did not own Estonia, that their occupation of Estonia, had been and was illegal and that under international law Estonia still existed as a de jure state.

The Russian Embassy withdrew their charge on the Estonian building within a few days of having received that letter from my instructing solicitors.

Doubtless, Moscow did not want to run the risk of a High Court judge hearing the written and oral testimony of Estonians who had escaped from the Soviet Union and the risk that the High Court could find as a finding of fact that Russia's occupation of Estonia had been and continued to be unlawful.

The Estonian Embassy building in Kensington was sold and the funds were put in trust until the day when Estonia was free of Soviet occupation.

In the event that happened just a few years later when the Berlin Wall crumbled and the Soviet Union disintegrated.

In 1991 Estonia became a member of the United Nations.

In 2004 Estonia became a member of NATO and the European Union

Those living in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were once again free and once again free citizens of Europe.

As the UK Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, has observed there is now a "...very real and present danger" to the freedom of Estonia and the other Baltic states.

Putin's Russia seems to have developed a new and hitherto unknown principle of foreign policy which is that, according to Putin, Russia is entitled to interfere in the affairs of any country which contains within it a Russian speaking population.

We must ensure that Russia very clearly understands that for every NATO country, the defence and protection of every square foot of NATO's soil from the Posterous to the Baltic, from Ankara to Alaska and from England to New England is of equal importance.

A fundamental principle of NATO is that any attempt to subvert, destabilise or attack one NATO member is to subvert, destabilise or attack every NATO member country.

We owe it to those citizens of the Baltic states who lost their lives in Stalin's purges and subsequently to ensure their protection as fellow Europeans and fellow members of NATO.

Putin should never misunderstand the inherent desire of Europe and the west to be reasonable, rational and to resolve things by diplomacy as weakness.

The lessons of our grandfathers is that in foreign policy there needs to be some very clear red line. For those of us brought up in the post war world, we need continuously to assert that for us those red lines include the boundaries of every fellow NATO state.