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Karis to discuss military defense facilities with Latvia, Lithuania

Alar Karis and Kaja Kallas.
Alar Karis and Kaja Kallas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Estonia will actively start discussing military defense facilities with Latvia and Lithuania, President Alar Karis said on Monday after a routine meeting of the National Defense Council.

Karis said Russia is testing the will and readiness of Finland and Estonia's borders, but Estonia has prepared for such attacks. He said the border must be able to withstand both hybrid attacks as well as force, such as tanks and combat units.

Estonia must be protected from the first attack, he stressed.

"Military defense facilities in our border region is certainly a topic to be continued in the new year. And the Ministry of Defense, together with our Baltic counterparts, is currently working in this direction," Karis told journalists at a press conference after the meeting.

Speaking about Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Karis said the Euro-Atlantic community needs to clearly show its support for Kyiv and stand with the country long-term. He said Ukraine's defense and security guarantees are decisive for European security.

"We know that Ukraine still needs more weapons, even better weapons, and it is important that all countries with this capability put their military industries to work so that Ukraine gets what it needs and so that Europe becomes militarily strong again, which in turn will prevent future wars of aggression on European soil," the president said.

Alar Karis and Kaja Kallas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Kallas called on countries to contribute 0.25 percent of GDP to aid Ukraine

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform), who also participated in the press conference, called on Europe, North America, and other countries to support Ukraine to the amount of 0.25 percent of GDP.          

"Estonia's contribution to winning the war in Ukraine over the next four years will be 0.25 percent of GDP. If everyone put in 0.25 percent, that's what it would take for Ukraine to win this war," said Kallas.

Kallas said, since 2022, Estonia has given Ukraine military aid worth nearly €500 million. "This is necessary to ensure our security as well," the prime minister said.

In the coming years, Estonia will allocate €14 million per year Ukraine, including for reconstruction.

Kallas said she understands that many people are growing used to war, and in democracies, public opinion can slow down decision-making. However, she emphasized that it is necessary for governments to consistently explain why supporting Ukraine is important in their countries.

The figure 0.25 percent of GDP has been suggested in a discussion paper by the Ministry of Defense as the amount all countries can contribute annually to help Ukraine win the war.

The National Defense Council is an advisory body to the president. It discusses key issues from the point of view of national defense and expresses its opinions on these issues.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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