The defense budget for 2021 will amount to 2.3% of the Gross Domestic Product, the highest level since restoration of independence.
The rise is partly the result of weapon systems procured late this year, including coastal missile systems. The nominal minimum domestic defense spend required of NATO members is 2% of GDP per annum.
The Center for Defense Investment (RKK), the body tasked with defense procurement, has started the procurement process for these, in conjunction with the Estonian Navy, a policy, which has also found commonality with neighboring Latvia’s aims.
RKK director Kusti Salm said that: “AS of today, I think we are in a unique situation where Latvia’s needs fall more or less in the same time frame, and are more or less the same as Estonia’s. As a result, we are taking into account the possibility of joint coastal defense procurement, with Latvia.”
Both countries are NATO members.
While the focus is on coastal defense – which also includes the deployment of sea mines – for 2021, mid-range air defense is not in the picture as had previously been thought, Reform MP, former commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) and Riigikogu defense committee member Gen. Ants Laaneots has said.
“This is an issue, which can no longer be resolved next year, since no funds have been found for the purpose, but instead next year and so on,” Gen. Laaneots went on, saying that the Russian Federation wished to exert control over the Baltic region in general and the airspace over the Baltic Sea in particular.
Kusti Salm said around EUR 180 million in defense investment would find its way into the Estonian economy, with a great proportion of that allocated to construction.
While the EDF’s 1st Brigade is the main recipient of investment at present, in the coming years the focus will shift to the 2nd Brigade, Salm said.
“If we look at what kind of heavy artillery the Russians have across all units, the preponderance is still depressing in fact,” Gen. Laaneots said. (ERR/Business World Magazine)