After columnist Alo Lõhmus proposed in a column read on Vikerraadio that Estonian defense expenditures should be raised from 2 to 3 percent of GDP, uudised.err.ee asked top politicians and officials for their thoughts.
Former Commander in Chief and current defense adviser to the PM Ants Laaneots:
“Considering the current poor state of Defense Force and Defense League equipment, a boost in defense spending would be necessary,” Laaneots said, adding that communications and leadership means, anti-air and anti-tank weapons and ammunition should be prioritized, and the police and border guard also strengthened.
He said he does not believe politicians have acknowledged the seriousness of the security situation and are unwilling to make that kind of difficult decisions before the next elections.
Finance Minister Jürgen Ligi:
“Estonian defense spending increases by 2 percent annually which meets our commitments to our allies, giving us a guarantee that a defense budget 1,000 times bigger than ours is covering us,” Ligi said.
He said increasing spending beyond the level needed for the security guarantee might not be understood or accepted by the rest of the Estonian society.
Current Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu:
Reinsalu said Estonia has a 10-year defense development plan, but the current situation has changed the urgency of having fully developed defense capabilities.
“Our goal is to field two brigades, one of which one should be armored,” he said, adding that all parties should come to an agreement over a defense capability plan, after which the question of funding should be tackled.
Reserve Captain Rene Toomse, lecturer at the National Defense College:
The starting point for defense capabilities is not funding but a realistic strategy, Toomse said, adding that the first stage should be mapping the strengths and weaknesses of the potential enemy, then analyzing Estonia's defense assets.
The results should show the figure needed to protect the nation, which can be two, three or even 30 percent of GDP, he said.