Estonian military support to Ukraine to increase to more than 1 percent GDP

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Javelin missiles bound for Ukraine loaded onto a military transport aircraft in Estonia. February 2022.
Javelin missiles bound for Ukraine loaded onto a military transport aircraft in Estonia. February 2022. Source: Headquarters of the EDF/

The Estonian government supported the proposal of Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) to provide Ukraine with the largest military aid package to date, Stenbock House announced Thursday. With it, Estonia's military assistance to Ukraine is increasing to €370 million, or just over 1 percent of Estonia's GDP.

The latest military aid package announced by Estonia consists of howitzers, ammunition, artillery support equipment as well as grenade launchers, according to a press release.

The total recovery value of the package is approximately €113 million, which will increase Estonia's military assistance to Ukraine to €370 million, or slightly more than 1 percent of Estonia's GDP.

According to ERR's information, this package will include dozens of 155 mm and 122 mm howitzers and military trucks and thousands of shells to use with them, as well as more than 100 Carl-Gustaf anti-tank recoilless rifles and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

While the aid being allocated by Thursday's decision will be sourced in part from stocks already in use by Estonia itself, the government confirmed that this will not reduce Estonia's defense capacity, as the deficit in combat readiness left by the donated artillery will be erased in full in the near future.

Namely, the Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) planned transition to K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers purchased from South Korea is already underway, and Estonia's defense is likewise strengthened by allied presence in the country, including HIMARS light multiple rocket launchers recently deployed by the U.S., the government underscored.

"Estonians know from their painful history what happens when evil triumphs and a large country swallows up smaller ones," Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said, commenting on the decision. "If Ukraine falls, freedom is in danger elsewhere in the world as well. By helping Ukraine defend its independence, we are defending all countries' right to freedom and democracy, including Estonia's."

Thus it is imperative that Estonia continues to provide military assistance to Ukraine, Kallas emphasized.

"With today's decision, we are sending arms to Ukraine that they need the most," she specified. "Ukraine has asked for this help from Estonia directly; the need for this particular weaponry was also emphasized by President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy at our recent meeting of the leaders of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) in Riga."

The prime minister added that the Ukrainians have been very fast learners in starting to use new weapons systems, and have been able to employ Estonian-provided military assistance very skillfully.

"We all want the war to end, but Russia has sent a clear signal that it is planning to continue its war of aggression," Kallas said. "Therefore, the free world must continue to provide arms assistance to Ukraine, and do so at a much greater scale and speed. All countries must look into their stockpiles, and ensure that industries are able to produce more and faster. Russia's war against Ukraine comes at a price — a price we pay in euros, but the Ukrainians are paying with their lives."

Pevkur likewise emphasized Ukraine's major need for heavy weapons.

"Ukraine needs heavy weapons to maintain initiative and withstand Russia, which is currently preparing to restore its military strength," the Estonian defense minister said, warning that the toughest battles are yet to come. "We and our allies have a direct impact on the fighting capacity of Ukrainian soldiers, and that is highly valued in Ukraine. Therefore it is important to set an example and motivate other allies to provide assistance."

Previous aid packages from Estonia to Ukraine have included Javelin anti-tank missiles, howitzers, anti-tank mines, anti-tank grenade launchers, mortars, vehicles, communications equipment, medical supplies, personal protective equipment such as helmets as well as dry food packages.

In cooperation with Germany, Estonia has also donated two field hospitals and medical supplies worth nearly €15 million. A third field hospital will be donated by Estonia to Ukraine in cooperation with the Netherlands and Norway, who supported the project with €7.8 million.

Estonia is applying for funds from the European Peace Facility (EPF) for the replacement of its own military equipment.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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