The Estonian government is set to decide on a planned mid-range air defense procurement within the context of the state budget strategy (RES), defense minister Hanno Pevkur (Reform).
Pevkur said Friday that: "Yesterday, the government was given an overview of the current state of the procurement, and similarly, [Estonian Defense Forces chief] Maj. Gen. Herem provided the cabinet with an overview of what this capability might be. We had prepared different scenarios, ahead of making the final decision yesterday."
"This decision now relates to funding. Since it concerns the years 2025 and 2026, not the next year, the related decisions will materialize with the RES, ie. the government will reach decisions on that strategy, in the coming weeks. Final decisions on air defense will also follow," he went on.
The government announced a joint Estonian-Latvian tender for the acquisition of medium-range air defense at the end of last month.
Pevkur said: "The process is underway. We will receive tenders by the end of September; the procurement has been announced, fully in the knowledge that we can make a decision based on the government's allocation of funds. However, the work is ongoing."
Jaanus Karilaid, Center Party whip at the Riigikogu, however, says the decision should be made more quickly, and does not necessitate awaiting the RES process.
He said: " The decision should have been made yesterday. Our main criticism of the government was the Reform Party's sluggishness. Central air defense X was also one of the first serious conflicts in our joint coalition. Any harsh rhetoric towards Russia will become meaningless should the development of Estonia's defense capabilities be so slow, and generalized."
"The government does not have to wait for the RES process. The Riigikogu is also willing to convene in an emergency. Financial guarantees are central to procurement," said Karilaid.
The announcement of the joint Estonian-Latvian mid-range air defense procurement came at the start of July, shortly after the NATO Madrid Summit and when Pevkur's predecessor as defense minister, Kalle Laanet, was still in office.
Minister Pevkur said at the end of last month that this system could be ready in three years. Which system is actually purchased naturally hinges on the procurement process itself.
Editor: Andrew Whyte