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Editorial: time for Estonia to cash its NATO checks

NATO on Ukraina kriisi valguses saatnud Ida-Euroopa õhuruumi nii täiendavaid hävituslennukeid kui ka radarilennuki. PHOTO: SCANPIX

Arrival of US 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team – 150 soldiers – into Estonia, to be rotated till the end of year at least, is a strong sign for sure. Up to now, the defence alliance has avoided permanent Western presence, unwilling to provoke Kremlin.

Since Russia launched its anti-Ukraine aggression, self-assumed taboos like that no longer make sense. Still, a company sized unit, albeit elite, rather serves as a mighty (diplomatic) message of dedication to defend Estonia.

Why deterrence, let us ask. Well, for the potential enemy to refrain from attacking – as the price would be too high. Surely, absolutely credible deterrence is vital also for Estonian economy, so no potential investor would draw back due to fear of aggression.

Regarding economic decisions, what matters is not the faith in us and allies that the aggressor won’t dare attack a NATO member; rather, it’s to totally shake the endangered state image in the eyes of investors. Without lasting investments, however, we can in no way create the wellbeing allowing us to reach other goals from the cultural to the demographic. This was a description of Estonia’s interests.

From the alliance point of view, it must be forever settled that yielding a square inch to an aggressor is out of the question – no matter the scenario. Over 900 million citizens, $30tn total GDP, and over three million soldiers in constant battle readiness (plus the reserves) – that’s the strength of NATO.

It takes decisiveness to show that strength , and the readiness to use it – so it would never have to be used to fight back attacks and take back territory.

Estonia has participated in allied missions in Afghanistan and Iraq; now, we are with the French in Central African Republic. Into its own and thus NATO defence capability, Estonia is investing two percent of its GDP – per person, this is more than some far richer societies lay on the line.

Estonia had done and is doing a lot to help countries trying to build democracy. Naturally, we must tirelessly talk of the impressive liberality and development of our own society. If this isn’t the time to cash our checks, when is it? Response to real attack will always cost more than credible, perhaps a bit overblown, deterrence.

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