Defense policy MPs: Estonia can be defended
Estonia’s military defense was effective, politicians of the coalition as well as the opposition found in a discussion on ERR’s Vikerraadio. There were a few issues, but the Estonian Defence Forces as well as Estonia’s allies in NATO stood ready to defend the country, Defence Minister Margus Tsahkna (IRL) said.
“Estonia can be defended,” Tsahkna said, adding that this was what he could conclude from the documents and plans that he sees every day as minister of defense. That the allies were ready to defend Estonia was a reality, and a potential Russian attack on the country tantamount to an attack on all of NATO.
“And we can be sure that Russia wouldn’t throw all of its military power at Estonia, and that we wouldn’t be alone like we were in 1939 and 1940,” Tsahkna added.
Chairman of the Riigikogu’s National Defence Committee and former minister of defense, Hannes Hanso (SDE), said that the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) were in a state of constant development. “Exercises are taking place continuously, and we are developing. We don’t need any political showcase projects,” Hanso said. “Also, we can’t make dreams come true, but have to depart from what is possible.”
Hanso added that Estonia’s budget allocation to defense was one of the best in NATO, as 40 percent of it represented investment, including modernizing Estonia’s weaponry. “Coming here to wage war has to be too painful for a potential enemy, it can’t be worth it,” he said.
Chairman of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE), Mart Helme, said that Estonia’s defensive capacity had developed at an incredible rate, but that not all the related funding had gone where it would have been supposed to go. He pointed out that the Baltic Sea was still mainly controlled by Russia, that Estonia had no air power of its own, and that it was enough for Russia to fire its rockets at the country to start a war.
Former EDF chief of staff and MP for the Reform Party, Ants Laaneots, said that the Estonian forces lacked in terms of communication and leadership, for example in the cooperation of the EDF and the Defence League, an issue the Defence League needed to work on.
The retired general added that Finland was increasing its rapid response force from 230,000 to 280,000 personnel, while Estonia was moving from just 21,000 to 25,000 in a similar unit. Hanso replied that the fact needed to be taken into account that Finland wasn’t a member of NATO, but that Estonia could rely on allied support.
Defence Minister Margus Tsahkna said that the role of the Defence League had increased in the country’s territorial defense, and that they were working to improve its military capabilities.
Both Hanso and Tsahkna stressed that Estonia together with NATO was increasing its intelligence resources as well, which meant that a potential danger could likely be recognized early.
Editor: Dario Cavegn