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The State Department said Thursday that it’s not rattled by the fracturing of the governing coalition in Estonia, and the prospect of a new prime minister in that country that could be much more friendly to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas was defeated, and a new prime minister could give Russia more influence over Estonia’s internal affairs. But officials maintain that the U.S. has a solid relationship with Estonians, who still remember being occupied by Russian forces throughout the duration of the Soviet Union.

“Since Estonia regained its independence in 1991, the United States and Estonia have been close friends,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement to the Washington Examiner.

“As NATO Allies, our partnership is dependent not on individuals but rather our shared commitment to a secure, prosperous and democratic Europe. We wish former Prime Minister Taavi Roivas the best and stand ready to work with his successor.”

That successor could spring from the ranks of the Center Party, the second-largest party in Estonia and one of three that will form the new government. The Center Party generally represents the ethnic Russian minority population of the country and has received major funding from the Kremlin throughout its history.

“Our new leader is very much an Estonian patriot and no one questions this,” Center Party parliamentarian Kadri Simson told Politico. “We are not changing Estonian policies towards EU or NATO.”

Estonians have a strong distrust of Russia, exacerbated in recent years by Putin’s decision to annex Crimea and destabilize eastern Ukraine, in the name of protecting ethnic Russians.

“There’s the fear that Putin, under the guise of protecting Russia, will creep across the border in Estonia and dare NATO to invoke Article V over some tiny village that is 80 percent Russian,” a Senate Republican aide who works on foreign policy told the Examiner.

President-elect Donald Trump’s suggestion that the United States would not honor the NATO alliance if member countries failed to shoulder enough of the cost have compounded the unease in Estonia, which is one of five countries that are meeting their treaty-prescribed obligations.

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To counteract that danger, the Estonian government is training thousands of citizens in guerrilla warfare and distributing the weapons needed to fight an insurgency if Russian forces — openly or under different colors, as was the case in Ukraine — invade the country.

“We cannot equal their armor,” retired Estonian Army corporal Jaan Vokk told the New York Times. “We have to group in small units and do a lot of destruction of their logistics convoys. We needle them wherever we can.”

That broad-based fear of Russia could curb the degree to which the rise of Center Party tilts Estonian politics toward Putin. “I think it’s a blip,” the Senate Republican aide said. “Unless the incoming Trump administration does something stupid with NATO.”

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