We can keep boosting defense spending indefinitely, while it will do us little good if we cannot maintain the home front. It all starts with the people's will to defend themselves that is directly tied to trust in their state, Social Democratic Party MP Jaak Juske writes.
We have been living in the golden age of Estonian security recently. We have done everything in our power to make sure Estonia would never find itself alone again. We have strong allies and spend an exemplary 2.3 percent of GDP on defense. National defense development has seen a consensus between all political forces.
However, all of it now comes up short. Russia has been violating international law, partially occupying its neighbors for years. All signs suggest it is about to embark on yet another campaign against Ukraine in the coming weeks. We recently saw a new chapter of hybrid warfare on the Belarusian borders of Poland and Lithuania. War has come to the neighborhood. Neutral Finland and Sweden are acutely aware of the danger and are boosting defense spending and readiness.
It is an age-old truth that one should prepare for war if peace is one's goal. Analysts believe the Kremlin could set its sights on the Baltics once it has dealt with Ukraine. Vladimir Putin aims to test NATO's resolve without a major military conflict. We need to be prepared for that.
The 1930s demonstrated that Estonia cannot survive on its own. While another lesson from those days is that one should never give in to aggressors. The latter only grow bolder when they see weakness.
Maintaining allied relations needs to be a priority for Estonia. But we must also remind our Western partners that agreements with Russia are no guarantee of peace when one sides sticks to them and the other does not.
NATO boosted deterrence in the Baltic region following the occupation of Crimea. It is necessary once again. At the same time, Estonia must race to ramp up independence defensive capacity. Major investments are unavoidable over the coming years. The Social Democrats support such initiatives. However, it is vital for these decisions to be made through supraparty consensus instead of back offices.
But the most important aspect of all is that we can keep boosting defense spending indefinitely, while it will do us little good if we cannot maintain the home front. It all starts with the people's will to defend themselves that is directly tied to trust in their state. The government leaving a considerable part of people to their own devices when faced with extortionate heating bills in the winter erodes our tiny society much more effectively than whatever kind of information operation the Kremlin can muster.
Editor: Marcus Turovski