Estonia will reach a historical record in terms of defence spending next year. In 2022, a total of €748 million will be allocated to NATO-related expenditures, routine defence expenses, plus the acquisition and development of new capabilities. The budget will represent 2.31% of the forecasted GDP for the Baltic republic.
Minister of Defence Kalle Laanet announced the 2022 defence budget in late September. The Estonian Parliament adopted the state finance plan drafted by the Reform Party and Centre Party government in its final reading on Wednesday, 8 December, with 59 votes out of a total of 101.
This evolution occurred under Russia’s and Belarus’ ongoing activities on Europe’s eastern rims. The Russian President’s standoff with the West over Ukraine is triggering the strongest rise in tensions in the Baltic states since the Soviet Union collapsed three decades ago, according to Estonia’s Minister of Defence Kalle Laanet. In an interview on Tuesday, 7 December, he said that “the Baltic states will be the next ones under pressure” without elaborating on potential threats.
Moreover, Mr Laanet said Russia’s build-up of troops on the Ukrainian border was “like fog” with little clarity on its intentions. US President Joe Biden warned Putin against any attack on Ukraine during a two-hour video conference after American intelligence, shared with European allies, showed Russia amassing as many as 175,000 troops for a possible invasion early in 2022.
Furthermore, Mr Laanet argued that ongoing pressure from Russia’s ally Belarus, which has allowed thousands of migrants, mostly from the Middle East, to breach the border with the European Union, has also raised the alarm in the region. Estonia’s defence spending boost should be increased even more in response to the “quite turbulent” security situation.
The Estonian Minister concluded that NATO and EU allies must demonstrate readiness to respond quickly to Russian blackmail and urged for more cooperation around the Baltic Sea.
Written by Vasiliki Psychogiou