According to the director of the International Center for Defence and Security (ICDS) Sven Sakkov, economic downturn caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus will interrupt the trend of rising defence budgets.
"This crisis has highlighted the problems related to the functioning of transport corridors within Europe. If NATO military mobility had until now been considered to be fast border crossing for military transport with minimal bureaucracy, we now see states closing their borders altogether," Sakkov told ERR.
"It is clear that at a time of crisis, movement must be guaranteed. This imperative can now be incorporated in the legislations of NATO member states. If a house is on fire, all other rules exept the ones for evacuation are left behind," he said.
"Looking ahead, the current pandemic will definitely affect the military defence departments of all NATO members as the economic downturn will interrupt the trend of rising defence budgets," Sakkov added.
"As the defence budget is directly linked to the GDP in Estonia, the decline in percentage terms is equal to the decline in GDP. On the other hand, this crisis is global, downward trend is global. All boats will be rocked by this tide."
According to Sakkov, Russia has already started to exploit the situation. "We have already seen Russian information operations working at full force. The goal is identical to that of a month ago - pitting EU members against each other, pitting USA against Europe, to sow discord and false information. This is why we have seen false news about EU country X suspending planes carrying medical supplies to EU country Y and so on," he pointed out.
"Overall, this crisis demonstrates that a fragmented Europe cannot function. We have now seen what Europe with internal borders means. Queues stretching for tens of kilometers on the border between Poland and Lithuania are familiar to many from thirty years back. I am sure that none of us want to return to those times," Sakkov said.
Editor: Anders Nõmm