Poll: Estonian population more willing than ever to defend country

EDL members participating in the large-scale Siil exercise. May 2018.
EDL members participating in the large-scale Siil exercise. May 2018. Source: Martin Andreller, Karri Kaas/mil.ee

A total of 81 percent of Estonia's residents consider it necessary to provide armed resistance in the event of an attack, and more than half support increasing the country's defense spending, it appears from the results of an annual public opinion survey commissioned by the Ministry of Defense.

The results of the latest survey indicate that the Estonian people's will to defend as well as their belief that Estonia could manage to resist until the arrival of more allies has increased significantly in light of Russia's war in Ukraine, the Ministry of Defense said in a press release Friday.

Both willingness to engage in defense activities as well as the conviction that armed resistance is necessary in the event of an attack have also increased.

"Overall, we can say that Estonian residents both support and are personally ready to defend Estonia," Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) said, commenting on the results. "We can be certain that we are prepared to stand together and fight for Estonian freedom as firmly as we stood for freedom in the late 80s and early 90s."

81 percent of residents consider armed resistance to an attack to possibly or definitely be necessary, up 9 percentage points on year. According to their abilities and skills, 66 percent of the population is possibly or definitely prepared to participate in defense activities, likewise up 9 percentage points compared with 2021 figures.

On year, the belief that Estonia would possibly or definitely manage to defend itself until help from allies arrives has increased as well — from 49 to 60 percent. The proportion of residents who don't consider at all possible, meanwhile, has decreased from 13 to 7 percent.

80 percent of the population supports NATO membership, and 69 percent believe that NATO has done enough to ensure Estonian security. Just under half — 48 percent — also believe that if a conflict were to break out, the alliance would provide direct military assistance to Estonia.

According to this year's poll results, Estonians most commonly consider Estonia's NATO membership to be the country's primary security guarantee — 70 percent of respondents, up 9 percentage points on year. 69 percent of the population also believes that troops serving in NATO Battlegroup Estonia make it safer to live in Estonia.

"It's worth noting that half of residents consider it necessary to increase defense spending," Pevkur highlighted. "In the near future, Estonia will be facing a series of crucial investments to strengthen its defense capability, and it's good to know that the residents of Estonia have faith in how our defense sector is spending this money, and consider investments in security and national defense important."

According to the poll, 51 percent of Estonian residents are in favor of raising defense spending, up from 31 percent in 2021. This year, the Estonian government has approved two additional packages worth €816 million in total aimed at strengthening Estonia's military defense.

In 2022, Estonian defense spending equals 2.3 percent of GDP.

Commissioned by the Ministry of Defense, this year's public opinion survey was conducted online and via telephone between March and early April, and included 1,200 Estonian residents between aged 15-74.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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