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Estonia enhances military capabilities, increases defense budget

Source: Ministry of Defence of Estonia, Defence Industry Europe

In 2024, Estonia´s defence budget will exceed three per cent of GDP for the first time, including an additional EUR 350 million being directed by the new state budget strategy toward ammunition stocks, meaning that Estonia will be purchasing EUR 1.35 billion worth of ammunition in the coming years.

 

“National defence is one of the focuses of the 2024 state budget. As a small country, we have to make a daily effort to maintain our independence. To this end, it is necessary to proactively develop Estonia’s independent defence capabilities as well as our readiness to defend Estonia together with our NATO Allies,” Estonian Minister of Defence Hanno Pevkur said.

Total defence spending in 2024–2027 will be around EUR 5.6 billion, implying a projected share of GDP of 3.03–3.21 percent. “Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine has shown that our neighbour to the east has the political will, popular support and resources to carry out its policy of conquest. The security situation in Europe and in the world will continue to remain the worst it has been for decades, which is why we must take into account the need to invest more of our common wealth in national defence,” Estonian Minister of Defence Hanno Pevkur added.

 

 

More than 50 per cent of the defence budget is directed towards procurements, i.e. directly on building up defence capabilities, which places Estonia among the leaders in a NATO comparison.

“The aim of the Ministry of Defence is that every euro entrusted by the taxpayer should produce the maximum defence capability,” said Pevkur.

 

 

Over a period of four years, new armoured vehicles, additional self-propelled artillery, HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems, loitering munitions and mortars will be procured for Army units. “In addition, we are building a medium-range air defence system, which is the largest defence project in our history and will serve to make Estonia’s airspace significantly safer. Our indirect fire capability will also be making a leap forward, and we will be adding anti-ship missiles to our arsenal,” Pevkur explained.

“Exercise Ussisõnad (Parseltongue) is currently underway, with the aim to increase the combat capability of the territorial defence forces, which we will continue to maintain. Over the next four years, the Defence League will receive nearly EUR 300 million, EUR 65 million of which will be for procurements in support of territorial defence,” Pevkur added.

 

 

Around EUR 442 million will be invested in infrastructure in 2024–2027. The most important of these are the ammunition depots and storages, Nursipalu base, the War and Disaster Medicine Centre, NCO School and the national defence building in Tartu, the canteen at Ämari Air Base, and the workshop for the armoured personnel carriers of the 2nd Infantry Brigade.

“In our four-year development plan, we made painful decisions in the total amount of EUR 34 million and reduced the capacity of the war and disaster medicine centre to be built in Tartu. We will also further optimise site security and fuel and energy costs,” said Pevkur, as he introduced the areas where the ministry will be making cuts. “These savings will serve to increase our defence capabilities as, per the agreement, the resulting savings will be channelled back into national defence, which means that we will, first and foremost, be able to buy more ammunition,” Pevkur added.

The defence budget exceeding three percent means that much of this growth will also boost the Estonian economy as a whole. For example, in 2022, EUR 265.5 million, or 53 per cent of the defence investments and economic expenditures made within the area of government of the Ministry of Defence reached the Estonian economy.

 

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