Estonia took another step on January 14 to bolster its defence as the nation’s Ministry of Defence announced the signing of a new €36 million contract to procure twelve K9 Thunder Self-Propelled Howitzers (Ministry of Defence Estonia, 2023). The deal, signed with the company Hanwha Defence, is a result of what Defence Minister Hanno Peukur referred to as “lessons learned from the war in Ukraine” (as cited in Estonian World, 2023). The 47-ton, 155 mm howitzers manufactured in South Korea feature a maximum firing range of 40 kilometres and can reach a top speed of 67 kilometres per hour (European Defence Review, 2022).
Six weeks after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and as talks are getting louder about a possible integration of Sweden into NATO, the Försvarsmakten (Swedish Armed Forces) announced on 4 April 2022 that it had signed a technical agreement with Finland, Estonia, and Latvia to cooperate in a joint-procurement effort. These countries will thus jointly develop a new 6×6 armoured personnel carrier (APC) under the Finnish-led Common Armoured Vehicle System (CAVS) programme, in cooperation with the Finnish armoured vehicle manufacturer Patria.
In a tweet on 24 March, Estonia’s Defence Ministry Kalle Laanet announced that Estonia will increase its military spending to €476 million. The more significant part of this budget will be destined to buy short-to mid-range air defence systems, which Estonia hopes to acquire no later than 2025 and estimates the acquisition would be worth about €350 million.
Recently, NATO has decided to reinforce its eastern flank. In addition to the four battlegroups already stationed in Poland and the Baltic States, four new battlegroups are now being added. The four new NATO battlegroups will be stationed in Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Hungary. With these additional reinforcements, roughly 25,000 NATO soldiers will be present in Eastern Europe. The countries themselves provide about 290,000 soldiers. On land, the reinforcements serve mainly as deterrence for Russia, to show the Russians that invading any of these countries will have massive consequences.
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.