Vladimir Putin's bloody war in Ukraine has shown that Russia and its rulers have not changed over the centuries. A maximally efficient and well-funded national defense is a means of making sure Estonia, its language, culture and people survive throughout the ages, MP Jaak Juske writes.
History is in the habit of repeating itself, and while not identical, certain patterns tend to reoccur from time to time. Eight years from now will mark a millennium since Yaroslav the Wise first conquered the territory of Estonia. Temporarily, it has to be said. But it was the beginning of a thousand-year period during 325 years of which all or parts of Estonia were ruled by the Russian state, no matter its official name at different times.
What happened on February 24 this year – the birthday of our country –was something many in Estonia and the West no longer believed possible: a major war in our region. Finally, the eyes of those who wanted to believe Russia had changed – which desire is entirely human – were opened.
Vladimir Putin's new and bloody major war in Ukraine has shown that Russia and its rulers have not changed. The same kind of destruction, killing and rape as was perpetrated during the eras of Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great or Stalin continues in the heart of Europe today.
It is wonderful in this situation that the Riigikogu has virtual consensus concerning the need to ramp up defense spending. The necessary decisions have been taken. At the same time, we need to maintain and develop allied relations to have a maximally effective collective defense umbrella, to be prepared. Maintaining solid allied relations and domestic unity are crucial, and we need to do everything in our power to ensure what happened in Ukraine would not be repeated in Estonia.
What we were treated to in the hall of the Riigikogu on October 10 was all the more shameful. [EKRE MP] Mart Helme, the same man who said six months ago that Ukraine was history, that it would be destroyed, took to the stand and proceeded to regurgitate Putin and Kremlin propaganda according to which the successful Ukrainian offensive of the past weeks and months was a clever Russian plan all along. That they were falling back to prepare for a major offensive. Putin has allegedly allowed Russian troops to be killed in Ukraine for seven months in preparation for a major offensive.
All of it could be construed as dark humor were it not recited by a member of the Riigikogu in front of the parliament. Statements by my good colleague Leo Kunnas give hope that the Kremlin's talking points are not the talking points of the whole of the Conservative People's Party (EKRE).
We need to maintain a defense spending of at least 3 percent of GDP for the coming years, for as long as the security situation remains critical. At the same time, development of broad-based national defense, which also needs additional funding, must continue.
It is important not to confuse the ends with the means. A maximally effective and well-funded national defense is a means for making sure Estonia, its language, culture and people survive throughout the ages. Our own country is dear both to our hearts and in terms of upkeep. In order to better protect Estonia, we need to bear these expenses in the state budget.
Editor: Marcus Turovski