Estonia updates National Security Concept

Urmas Reinsalu, Kaja Kallas and Lauri Läänemets.
Urmas Reinsalu, Kaja Kallas and Lauri Läänemets. Source: Jürgen Randma/Government Office

The Estonian government on Tuesday approved and will submit to the Riigikogu the updated National Security Concept of Estonia. The document describes the security environment as having become more tense, explains the objectives of Estonia and specifies the steps necessary to achieve them.

"We renewed the National Security Concept of Estonia because the international security environment has deteriorated," Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said. "Russia started a full-scale war against Ukraine. The COVID-19 pandemic that preceded it, showed how important it is to be ready to mitigate the effects of a civil crisis. These trends have changed how we think of security policy both in Estonia and in the free world more broadly. This means that we must be ready for risks that previously seemed unthinkable both as a country and as a society," said Kallas.

The PM went on to say that the updated National Security Concept of Estonia formulates what politicians and security experts have always said – the main threat to our security comes from Russia. "The objective of Estonia is and has always been to make aggression against the Estonian state impossible. However, we are now doing much more on our own and with our allies to ensure our security. We have raised our defense spending to a historically high level. The defense spending of Estonia in 2023 will exceed €1 billion at 2.85 percent of GDP. In 2022, we allocated over €1.2 billion extra to military defense."

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said: "We have gone from covert competition between countries to open confrontation, including large-scale hostilities in Europe. In this confrontation, a new international security architecture is being shaped. It is existentially important for Estonia to maintain a world order based on democratic values and rules," he emphasized.

Lauri Läänemets (SDE), Estonia's minister of internal affairs, emphasized the importance of civil defense in the new concept. "Estonia has invested heavily in its military and national defence but what is happening in Ukraine is a clear lesson of how important civil protection is to ensure the safety of people and their will to defend themselves as well as the continuity of society as a whole. A protected national border alone is not enough if the people inside it are unprotected in the event of a military attack or any other man-made or natural crisis."

The new National Security Concept of Estonia points out that due to the growing military threat from the Russian Federation, it is necessary to increase the level of military defense spending to at least 3 percent of the GDP, to which is added the financing of the expenses of Estonia as a host nation for allies. Similarly to military national defense, the state budget strategy ensures permanent funding for the development of civil protection mechanisms, taking into account investment needs based on threat scenarios.

In addition to defense, the concept includes social cohesion and the resilience of the state, economic security, vital services, internal security, as well as international activities.

Russia continues to use hybrid attacks and asymmetric threats to achieve its political goals. Such influence activities can concern the most vulnerable areas of life, from exploiting energy dependence to artificially induced migration or attacks on vital services and cyberspace. The activities of the Russian special services, which include both divisive activities and the deliberate dissemination of disinformation, pose a permanent threat to Estonia. It is important that people living in Estonia know how to recognize the divisive misinformation of Russia and oppose it, the document lays out.

In order to strengthen the defense of Estonia, based on military advice, Estonia will rapidly and fully develop military units and capabilities that are fully manned, regularly trained, equipped, armed and secured with supplies.

The National Security Concept of Estonia is a framework document that is used as a basis for relevant development and action plans. The 2023 document on the core principles of Estonia's security policy is the fifth of its kind and is based on the 2017 document. The document is drawn up by the government and must be approved by the Riigikogu.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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