Prime minister: Government to allocate €380 million to national defense
Estonia will extraordinarily increase its defense spending by €380 million in the coming years to deal with both military and hybrid threats, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said.
Tensions in the region have grown to unprecedented levels and the government will make proposals to strengthen national defense, Kallas said in a political statement to the Riigikogu on Wednesday.
"For this reason, I gave ministers a task to bring together concrete proposals to accelerate the implementation of the national defense development plan. We discussed these proposals in the government cabinet [on Tuesday]" Kallas said.
The money will be allocated for the 2022-2025 period. It will be used to enhance the Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) ability to react quickly and to acquire equipment, such as ammunition.
A large part will be directed toward non-military developments, including increasing the Ministry of the Interior's capabilities in identifying threats and reacting to them.
Estonia's defense budget in 2022 is €748 million, already an increase of €103 million from 2021. This puts the country's defense spending at 2.31 percent of forecast GDP.
"Estonia's own contribution to security must grow and will grow now. We have talked about our national defense development plans being made in the long-term. They are, but we need to accelerate the implementation in today's security situation by increasing security funding," Kallas said.
"We do not want to be in a situation in a few months, where we say 'we should have' when looking back on today. No - we cannot take risks on defense in the current situation and by asking our allies for greater contributions, we must also increase our own activity," she added.
The prime minister said all the government proposals have already been drawn up and presented in development plans. "The government's goal is to implement these plans faster. These steps are also a signal to everyone else that we take our security seriously and that we are also prepared for actions," Kallas said.
She added that Estonia needs to remain calm and confident despite the anxious times.
"There is no military danger for Estonia's security yet. We have emphasized on each step that the general idea of our foreign policy is 'never alone again'. We are given insurance by our great relations with our allies, which we work hard to maintain every day. Both by diplomatic service and at a higher political level. We are NATO and European Union members and are present for discussions," Kallas said.
Ambassador to Finland and security expert Sven Sakkov called the funding "a big deal".
"380 MEUR is roughly 1/2 of our annual defence budget, i.e. its a big deal," he wrote on social media after the announcement on Wednesday.
Estonia will invest additional 380 M euros in comprehensive defence over the coming years. Announced by PM @kajakallas today. More details to follow. 380 MEUR is roughly 1/2 of our annual defence budget, i.e. its a big deal. https://t.co/Bvc7cDylgP— sven sakkov (@sakkov) January 19, 2022
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste