Outgoing EDF chief in Japan: Estonia should double its defense spending

Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Commander Gen. Martin Herem said during a visit to Japan that Estonia should double what it spends on national defense in the next two years in order to stockpile enough munitions for a possible conflict with Russia.

Herem said that head of the Russian regime Vladimir Putin would not be deterred by nuclear weapons or major losses if he decided to attack Estonia, while the country would be devastated if Russian forces were not repelled quickly.

“If you show your face on my border, a decisive victory needs to be achieved fast: in days and weeks, as opposed to months and years. If we truly believe it could happen three years from now, the decisions need to be made today,” Herem said in an interview given during his visit to Japan.

Estonia already spends 3 percent of its GDP on defense for one of the highest contributions in NATO.

Estonia’s Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform Party) said late last year that while the EDF would like to see defense spending taken to 4.5 percent of GDP, there is a limit to what the taxpayer can tolerate.

While the Kremlin denies it has plans to attack the Baltics, many European and NATO experts believe an attack could take place in the coming years.

The Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service’s (EFIS) annual report also mentions that Russia is ramping up offensive capacity near Estonia’s borders and the Kremlin is preparing for a possible conflict with NATO over the coming decade.

Other NATO members are ramping up their presence in the Baltics. For example, Germany plans to increase active service personnel in Lithuania to 4,800 by 2027.

Gen. Herem met with Japan’s Defense Ministry officials in Tokyo to discuss procurement of components that would allow Estonia to reduce the cost of national defense equipment.

Even though Japan has strict export restrictions on defensive equipment, these do not cover multipurpose components which can also be used to manufacture things used in the military. Herem gave the example of sensors used to detect earthquakes, which can also be used to detect Russian tank movements.

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