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  • The Chief of Defense warned politicians, but they didn't listen
  • Prime Minister Kallas comments on defense issues
  • Social Democrat Party leader believes that a national defense tax will still be introduced
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Defence
The Estonians only realized a year later that they were short of ammunition. Oo Jiflip/Unsplash

The Chief of Defense warned politicians, but they didn't listen

Estonian Defence Forces Commander Martin Herem informed the government as early as June last year about the need to buy €1.6 billion worth of ammunition, according to Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur's answers to questions from Riigikogu members[1].

The Riigikogu members wanted to know, among other things, whether the Chief of Defence Forces' military recommendation included a proposal to purchase additional ammunition in 2023.

Pevkur replied that when the military defense section of the development plan submitted to the Government on 8 June last year was updated, the Chief of Defence Forces' recommendation was also included if defense spending exceeded the 3% of GDP approved by the Riigikogu.

When asked how much ammunition the Chief of Defence Forces had requested, Pevkur revealed that the additional ammunition requirement was estimated at €1.6 billion, based on daily allowance rates (DOS).

"It is also necessary to clarify that the additional ammunition requirement was indicated as a complement to other capacity development projects not included in the 3%, such as tank battalions, ISTAR, etc.," Pevkur clarified.

The Minister added that this year, the Defence Forces have moved to an objectives-based methodology, whereby on 1 June of this year, the Defence Forces will be able to use a new methodology to develop the new equipment. The calculations presented by Herem increased the need for additional ammunition to €3.2 billion.

"Given that NATO is also changing the basis for the ammunition calculation, it is appropriate to follow the new calculations of the Chief of Defence Forces until the new NATO calculations become available. Based on these calculations, Estonia would have to acquire additional munitions worth €3.2 billion, depending on how the adversary's targets will be destroyed," said Pevkur.

Prime Minister Kallas comments on defense issues

In mid-June this year, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that the government had not discussed the issue of allocating funds for the country's Defence Forces' ammunition needs, as the Ministry of Defence's Chancellor, Kusti Salm, and the Chief of Defence Forces, Martin Herem, had not formally made such a proposal. Pevkur replied that on June 1 this year he had received the calculations of the Chief of the Defence Forces based on which funds for ammunition could be requested.

The Chief of Defence Forces' military advice shows that the Defence Forces' request for an additional €1.6 billion for ammunition is based on Estonia's defense plans, which include the destruction of enemy weapons and units beyond Estonia's borders.

According to military guidelines, HIMARS Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (ATACMS) with a range of 70 to 300 kilometers, anti-missile missiles, IRIS-T medium-range air defense systems, and Mini-Harpy suicide drones should be used in serious combat.

The Chief of Defence Staff also presented the estimated quantity of ammunition needed to destroy a sufficient number of enemy targets at a distance and its cost. For example, to counter the first wave of a Russian attack, more than 800 long-range ATACMS missiles, nearly 500 smaller GMLRS missiles, more than 25,000 artillery shells, and more than 1,000 precision-guided missiles would be needed.

The cost of this number of ATACMS missiles exceeds €2 billion. The entire package presented by the Commander-in-Chief will cost €4 billion. However, as Estonia already has some of these weapons or is planning to acquire them, the additional financing requirement for the purchase of munitions will be around €3.2 billion, of which €1.6 billion is the minimum required.

Social Democrat Party leader believes that a national defense tax will still be introduced

Lauri Läänemets, chairman of the Estonian Social Democratic Party, intends to raise the issue of the distribution of ministerial posts between the ruling parties in the coalition talks, as the Social Democrats have strengthened their position in Riigikogu compared to the previous coalition talks. Läänemets also believes that the national defense tax proposed by the Social Democrats two years ago will still be introduced[2].

Although neither the coalition partners nor the opposition supported it at the time, the politician is convinced that if this were to be done, the situation of the Estonian people would be much easier today.