Foreign aid for Estonia up sharply

Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets at Ämari.
Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets at Ämari. Source: EDF Headquarters /

Aid from international organizations and allied nations, mainly the United States, meant to strengthen Estonia's defensive capacity has grown by leaps and bounds in the past two years.

Estonia's national defense efforts are aided mainly by NATO, the European Union and the United States of America, with Luxembourg a recent addition to the list.

While annual aid sums may differ wildly, they have grown exponentially in the last two or three years, Tiina Uudeberg, deputy secretary general of the Ministry of Defense, told ERR.

"Talking about NATO funding, the first thing was the airfield at Ämari for which NATO helped to pay back in 2010. Then came a break of a few years. Since then, it has ranged from a few to a few dozen million euros annually from NATO – mostly for putting up allies at the Tapa Campus and some training opportunities at the Central Training Area," Uudeberg said.

The EU has contributed around €40 million for transport infrastructure in recent years – to make sure the EDF and Estonia's allies could quickly get where they need to go. We can add to that €66 million for new radars and around €70 million for the European Defense Fund. Estonia has paid €11 into the latter.

The U.S. is Estonia's biggest single backer.

"It started back in the 1990s when we received a few million annually. Mostly it was for comms. For the past five or six years, funding from the States has been considerably more generous. We are talking about dozens if not hundreds of millions of dollars a year. In addition to money, the Americans are also giving us equipment," the undersecretary explained.

Luxembourg recently donated a few million euros for an unmanned aerial vehicles training area and cyberdefense. "We are in talks with Luxembourg over how they could help fund the Ämari Air Base," Uudeberg added.

Estonia's own defense budget is around a billion euros of which some €10 million or 1 percent has traditionally come from foreign aid.

Sums from NATO are likely to go up further in the coming years. "Indeed, it could reach 10 percent of our national defense budget. The percentage is not as important as the fact that all our allies understand our security concerns," the Defense Ministry undersecretary said.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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