Defense ministry official: Estonia is well protected

Kusti Salm.
Kusti Salm. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Estonia is well defended, a member of NATO, and Russian forces stationed near the country's border are in no position to launch an attack, Ministry of Defense Secretary-General Kusti Salm said, replying to comments made by the prime minister last week.

"I will use this opportunity to give an explanation about today's burning national defense issues. Estonia is protected and there is no immediate military threat against us," Salm said at the start of a press conference held at the Ministry of Defense on Tuesday.

Firstly, the official highlighted the Russian divisions stationed in Pskov, such as the 76th Airborne Division, suffered heavy losses - around 1,000 casualties - and will take approximately a year to return to its former strength.

Secondly, Salm said Estonia has increased its own combat capabilities.

"We are one of the largest buyers of ammunition in Europe, we have signed supply contracts for hundreds of millions of euros, bought hundreds of thousands of artillery shells, tens of thousands of anti-tank ammunition, procured additional artillery and are preparing to procure weapons for indirect fire," said Salm.

"In our defense structure, we have 26,000 reserve members of the Defense Forces and we have made a proposal to increase this by 10,000. Preparations for this have already begun," he said.

"If necessary, Estonia's plan is to start fighting from the first second, and NATO's plan is to start fighting from the first second to defend Estonia," Salm emphasized.

He said Estonia's reserves are well motivated and there are more than 2,000 NATO troops, planes and equipment stationed in the country.

"NATO is a serious and modern organization. It is the cornerstone of our security, and Estonia has no other alternatives besides joining NATO, and it is not seen that it should be needed," he said.

Last week, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) told the Financial Times newspaper and other media outlets that Estonia would be "wiped from map" under existing NATO plans.

Kallas was speaking before NATO's Madrid summit which starts today and will set the alliance's framework for the next decade.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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