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Reserve officer: Estonia's defense development plan needs to be changed

Leo Kunnas.
Leo Kunnas. Source: (Eesti Meedia/Scanpix)

The state's defense resources development plan needs to be reconsidered, finds Lt. Col. of the reserve, Leo Kunnas. The changes to be made would need to focus on Russia's changing military power.

Kunnas told ERR's Vikerraadio on Wednesday that the development program doesn't take into account at all what is currently going on in Russia. "Russia is more powerful today, and the bar has been raised higher than it was when Estonia's national defense development plan was put together," Kunnas said.

He expects the designated new commander of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF), Brig. Gen. Martin Herem, to change the program, or to come up with an emergency addition to close the gaps in Estonia's national defense.

"The question of the deterrent is important, but the basic criterium for the deterrent to work is credibility," Kunnas said. In Estonia's specific case, the force to be deterred is Russia, hence Estonia's course of action needed to take into account that country's military power.

The basis for a credible political deterrent is a working military deterrent, Kunnas argued.

"In other words, if Putin asks the Russian general staff how things are with the Baltic states, then a lot depends on the answer he'll get. If the Russian general staff answers that there aren't any forces of note, and that NATO forces aren't there, then that's a very bad answer," Kunnas said.

Russia only respects force, he added. Nothing could replace a credible military deterrent, and a political deterrent couldn't replace actual military strength an attacking enemy would have to reckon with.

Things that Estonia is currently missing include tanks, mid-range anti-air systems, and coastal defenses, Kunnas added.

"Several think tanks have pointed to the fact that there is no military balance in the Baltic area, between NATO forces and the Belarusian and Russian forces on the other side. Our situation is dangerous, and this doesn't create a credible deterrent," he said.

To hold off an attack for several days, a certain amount of military force is necessary, and at the moment Estonia doesn't have this amount of force at its disposal, Kunnas insisted further.

Estonia needs to do its homework and make the necessary changes, Kunnas finds. "We won't get around this." If Estonia couldn't back up its political course with actual military strength, "then what's going to happen is what happened in Debaltseva in Ukraine," Kunnas said.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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