Estonia intends to significantly increase its defense budget in the coming years. Defense Minister Pevkur expects the Kremlin to continue investing in its military capabilities. He warns against underestimating the Russian military after the defeats in Ukraine.
Estonia's Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur does not see Russia as significantly weakened after nine months of war in Ukraine. "We have to be honest and clear: the Russian Navy and the Russian Air Force are more or less as big as they were before the war," Pevkur said during a visit to Berlin. Although the Russian land forces had clearly lost strength, they would have the pre-February 24 size or even be larger "sooner than later".
He also expects that Russia will learn from the course of the war. "That means they will invest more in the skills that, from their perspective, have been successful in Ukraine in the coming years," Pevkur said. "We have no reason to believe that the threat from Russia is any less or that the threat to NATO is reduced."
According to the minister, Estonia, a rather small NATO country, intends to spend 2.84 percent of its gross domestic product on defense in the coming year. In 2024, the amount is expected to increase to 3.2 percent. About 1 percent of their own gross domestic product has already been given to military support for Ukraine against the Russian attack. "We all have to do more," said Pevkur.
According to the minister, Ukraine shares the values of freedom, a rule-based world and human rights. In particular, they currently need anti-aircraft systems as well as heavy artillery and ammunition. Pevkur warned of "war fatigue" in western countries. "This is exactly what Russia wants to achieve, and that's why we say they are in no hurry. Russia is definitely ready to suffer longer." He assumes that Russia "is mentally ready for a long war."
However, in view of the heavy losses in the land forces - possibly now 50 percent - the leadership in Moscow wants "a kind of break" to gather strength again. Only in the spring of next year will it become clearer how long the war could last. Pevkur: "Will it be years? Hard to say."