Grumbling can be heard coming from the EU over what diplomats and officials, on the condition of anonymity, described as Estonia renewing its military on the dime of other Member States, Politico writes.
As Kyiv's allies rush to provide military aid in the wake of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the EU has set up a joint fund called the European Peace Facility (EPF) to reimburse Member States for equipment and arms donated.
However, tensions have grown over how much money is going into the fund and how it is being used. Seven EU diplomats and officials spoke to Politico on the condition of anonymity.
The accusations are leveled especially at Estonia, which is described as using the fund, to which member nations contribute based on the size of their economies, to modernize its ageing military.
While all countries are officially reimbursed for 84 percent of expenses, it has not been agreed how to calculate the value of equipment sent to Ukraine. "There are widely different approaches, each country is using their own methodology" to calculate the costs, said one official.
Classified data from the EU's foreign affairs and defense department (EEAS) shared with diplomats from EU countries and revealed for the first time by Politico shows that six countries have calculated their reimbursement claims based on the purchasing price of new materials, rather than the actual current value of what they've sent to Ukraine. These are Finland (which has, according to EFAS, claimed 100 percent of the new purchasing price), Lithuania (93 percent), Estonia, (91 percent), France (71 percent) and Sweden (26 percent).
Estonia topped the list in absolute figures, claiming more than €160 million for its past donations to Ukraine, for which it was reimbursed €134 million based on the EPF's rate.
Diplomats from other Member States have described this practice as sanctimonious behavior by Estonia, suggesting that Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has very publicly led calls in the EU for more military support for Ukraine, but seems to have found a way to support her own army quite generously in passing.
"They are sending their scraps to Ukraine and buying brand new material for themselves, financed with EU money," one EU diplomat said of Estonia.
A second EU diplomat from a different country confirmed that Estonia's behavior had raised eyebrows across the EU as a "particularly blatant case" – even though no one wanted to call Tallinn out to avoid any sign of divisions.
Another diplomat said that Estonia sends old material no longer in production to Ukraine and asks for reimbursement [based on the price of] modern alternatives.
"For example, they have sent Strelas [old Soviet shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles] to Ukraine, but claimed reimbursement for modern Stingers, which of course have more capabilities and command a much higher price."
Politico writes that spokespeople for Estonia's permanent EU representation and defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Editor: Marcus Turovski