Acquiring a medium-range air defense system should be added to the supplementary budget recently proposed in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the accompanying deterioration in the security situation, Center MP and party whip at the Riigikogu, Jaanus Karilaid, says.
The additional package prepared by the Ministry of Defense already contains the necessary entries, but Estonia is still left with a significant capability gap in terms of its central air defense system.
Observations from the developments in Ukraine since the invasion began on February 24 shed more light on what gaps need plugging in Estonia's defensive capability, Karilaid continued.
He said: "The war in Ukraine now provides sufficient grounds to assess what weapon systems Estonia needs to procure."
"One of the best indicators is the types of weapons shipped to Ukraine by those countries assisting it," he continued, via a press release. "These weapons have proven to be effective, and could also give us a relatively reliable clue, which we can pay attention to."
A decision would need to be made soon, Karilaid added. "The decision must be made in the near future, because preparations for its development will take time."
The supplementary budget the government has proposed should be as broad-based as possible, Karilaid added, since, in addition to the defense and security crisis followign Russia's invasion of Ukraine, additional investments are needed in energy and the healthcare sector, as well as for the reception of those fleeing the Ukraine war.
Center also backs the temporary reduction of excise duty on some fuels, Karilaid added.
He said: "Fuel prices exert a significant impact on people's daily lives and are an important input in shaping the prices of food and transport services."
"Many countries have taken the opportunity to help their people during difficult times and have reduced excise duties," he continued.
Diesel fuel, special-purpose diesel, gasoline and natural gas used for heating would see their excise duties cut to the EU's minimum level to April 30 2023 under the current proposals, Karilaid went on.
Center is ready to approve the amended defense package at cabinet level as a matter of urgency, Karilaid added.
Finance minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus (Reform) said recently that the government is prepared to put together a supplementary state budget to "contribute to national security in a broader sense."
One of the key criteria in the defense spending aspect of the proposed budget would be the proportion which would bring quick material results, the minister said.
Two supplementary budgets were issued in response to the coronavirus crisis, in 2020 and 2021.
The chairs of all three Baltic States' foreign affairs committees – in Estonia's case, Reform MP Marko Mihkelson – have also been pushing for U.S. air defense systems to be deployed in the region as soon as possible, the English-language portal of Latvian public broadcaster LSM reports.
Editor: Andrew Whyte