Estonia says European nations should double defense expenditure

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European countries should double their defense expenditure because of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Estonia’s foreign minister said on Monday, adding that his own country planned to raise national defense spending to 3 percent of GDP.

Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu made his comments in an interview with Reuters during a trip to Kyiv with six other foreign ministers.

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The visit was intended to show support for Kyiv as it struggles with power outages following a wave of drone and missile strikes by Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February.

“We would like to see European countries doubling their defense expenditure in the time of the Ukrainian war and after the war, and we are going to spend 3 percent of our GDP on national defense,” he said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last week that countries in the military alliance, of which Estonia is a member, may decide to aim to spend more on defense than their current target of 2 percent of national output.

Many NATO allies have already increased their military spending since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Ukraine, which is not a NATO member but has applied to join the alliance, has increasingly called for support from its Western allies since Russian increased its missile strikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure.

Reinsalu said the 27-nation European Union, which includes Estonia, should also increase the level of funding it earmarks in military support for Ukraine.

“The European Union combined has supported around 0.2 percent of its GDP to military assistance to Ukraine and I made a pledge if we could reach 1 percent it would make a grand difference on the ground in changing the course of the war,” he said.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal wrote on Twitter that Monday’s trip by Reinsalu and the six other ministers had included discussion of tightening EU sanctions, rebuilding Ukrainian energy infrastructure, financial support and Ukraine’s “Euro-Atlantic aspirations.”

Read more: Russia can rebuild military in 2-4 years: Estonia

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