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Defense ministry plans to expand training ground in Ida-Viru County

A military exercise at Sirgala training ground.
A military exercise at Sirgala training ground. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

The Ministry of Defense is planning to more than double the size of the Sirgala military ground from its current 2,790 hectares to 7,772 hectares. The additional land is already owned by the state.

"It is not news that we have been rapidly developing our military capabilities, and understandably this brings with it the need to expand our training opportunities. In north-east Estonia, we have enough state land around the existing Sirgala training ground to expand the exercise area as needed. At the same time, of course, we would like to thank the local authorities and residents for their good cooperation and understanding," said Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform).

Elari Kalmaru, project manager of the training fields of the National Defense Investment Center, said the expansion has been a long time coming.

"The extension of the training field has already been reflected in the general plans of municipalities since 2005. The plan has been to use the former rehabilitated oil shale quarry site as a training ground in a phased approach," said Kalmaru.

She said the area lacks the capacity required for training exercises.

"At present, the training ground can be used for group-size unit combat maneuvers, firing anti-tank guns, mortars and heavy machine guns, and armored vehicle training, but it is not possible to carry out maneuvers simulating combat with mechanized units that enhance Estonia's military capabilities. It is also not possible to carry out live firing exercises with mechanized units on the current training ground," Kalmaru said.

The training ground is near Narva-Jõesuu and the city is expected to feel the impacts. The expansion will also extend into Toila and Alutagus municipalities. These areas will receive compensation for the extra disturbances.

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Editor: Barbara Oja, Helen Wright

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