As tensions over Ukraine rise, Estonian government promises more defense money – Defense Security Monitor

With the worsening security environment along Europe’s eastern borders with Russia, the Estonian government plans to invest more in the country’s defense capability adding another €380 million ($431 million) to core budgets over the next few years.

The bulk of the funding – €340m (90%) – is for building the direct defense capabilities of the Estonian Defense Forces, while the rest will go to non-military developments that help strengthen national defense overall. The latter includes secure communications solutions for the foreign service to provide resilience and open lines with allies and foreign embassies in the event of a crisis.

Estonia is in the middle of a 10-year period National Defense Development Plan. Under this plan, military allocations are to remain at or above 2% of national GDP, with any funding for direct infrastructure and/or maintenance costs associated with hosting NATO allied forces to be add to the 2% allocation (i.e. not counted towards the minimum). annual defense allocation of 2% of GDP).

The country directs force modernization spending towards improving the readiness of ground forces through the replacement of small arms, the acquisition of night vision equipment, the resupply and the modernization of man-portable anti-tank weapons , as well as the acquisition of armored vehicles and artillery. . It is also necessary to develop maritime surveillance capabilities and an air operations command centre.

The 2022 defense budget is the largest in Estonia’s independent history since 1991, representing a nominal 16% year-on-year increase from 2021 and amounting to 2.3 % of national GDP.

Due to its small size and proximity to Russia, Estonia’s primary national security concern involves possible Russian incursions into its territory by air, sea and land, as well as other non-technical means. direct destabilization of the Estonian Republic. These include cyberattacks (as it happened in 2007 following the government’s decision to move a 6ft statue of a Soviet Red Army soldier from the center of the capital Tallinn) or intentionally sow civil discord among the large ethnic Russian population (25%) as a pretext to an invasion or a separatist conflict.

Estonia and neighboring Latvia recognize Moscow’s potential use the “spell” of his people abroad (often referred to as “compatriots”) as a pretext for undertaking a variety of offensive measures against countries outside its borders. Ukraine’s takeover of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 is just one example, as Moscow justified the annexation of the area as necessary to protect the rights of Russian-speaking peoples outside the borders of the Russian Federation.

Due to its small size and border location with Russia, Estonia has forged a consistent approach since 2012 to meet and maintain NATO’s minimum requirement for annual defense spending of at least 2% of GDP.

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