Kunnas: Coastal Defenses Should Be Stronger (1)
In the latest salvo from reservist Lieutenant Colonel Leo Kunnas, the frequent critic of military policy said Estonia should increase spending on coastal defenses and mobile naval countermeasures on land - areas not included in the current defense forces development plan.
Speaking on ETV, Kunnas argued that while the Estonian fleet anchored at the Miinisadam port is inter-operable with the NATO fleet in neutralizing mines, it can't protect Estonia against a would-be assault from sea. The Zapad joint exercise held by Russia and Belarus trained personnel in staging such a landing, and tension is high over the sale by France of Mistral class amphibious assault vessels to Russia. Although the Mistrals are expected to be assigned to the Far East, they could be readied for service on the Baltic, too.
Kunnas says the current Estonian plan skimps on measures to repel a landing and battles would have to take place on the beaches.
Defense Minister Sven Mikser countered that the current development plans include costly elements even without coastal defense, and said that the focus currently lies on armored maneuvering capability, establishing anti-tank weapons systems and mobile artillery capability.
"It is not reasonable or justified to change these plans very rapidly. But the key gaps will be reviewed when the next development plan starts to be developed."
Kunnas concurred that coastal defense missile batteries would not be attainable at a defense spending level of 2 percent of GDP.
"But we can't trumpet it as an achievement that we are sticking to 2 percent level as the government is promoting. Now that a war is going on in Ukraine, this is certainly not sufficient," Kunnas said.