TALLINN – In his speech at the Warsaw Security Forum, Estonia's Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur stressed the importance of maintaining unity in support for Ukraine and increasing Europe's defense capabilities, and described the talk about the West's war fatigue as a bluff of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
"We need to maintain unity. As long as we can do that, we will outlast Putin and support Ukraine until the war is won. Talk of the West's war fatigue is part of Russia's influence activities and Putin's bluff -- our message is clear: we are not tired, our unity and support will not falter, we will support Ukraine to the victorious end of the war," the Estonian minister said.
Pevkur said Estonia's defense spending will equal 3.2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) next year and will remain above the 3 percent level in the long term.
"Increasing the defense budget by 1 percent of GDP has been difficult, but we cannot choose our neighbor -- Russia was, is and remains our biggest threat. Currently, 11 NATO countries invest more than 2 percent of GDP in defense. Perhaps two-thirds of the allies will have achieved this goal by the NATO summit of 2024. However, the security situation requires that everyone invest more and immediately in defense capabilities, because freedom does not come for free," he said.
On the fringes of the conference, Pevkur had bilateral meetings with Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollengren and Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson to discuss possibilities for defense cooperation. The Estonian minister also addressed the participants of the New Security Leaders program of the Warsaw Security Forum and met representatives of the defense industry.
In addition, the Estonian minister met with Col. Michal Malyska, commander of the 3rd Brigade of the Polish Territorial Defense Force, the main cooperation partner for the Estonian Kaitseliit (Defense League) territorial defense corps, to discuss ways to further deepen the cooperation between the Kaitseliit and the Polish Territorial Defense Force.