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EU state’s taxpayers must pay for militarization – minister

NATO member Estonia is mulling a new security tax ‘to protect’ itself from Russia, its finance minister has told local media

Growing defense costs are leaving Estonia with no other option but to introduce a security tax in the coming years, the EU country’s Finance Minister Mart Vorklaev said on Tuesday.

The minister was commenting on an initiative by Estonian Defence Forces’ chief Martin Herem, who earlier this week proposed increasing his country’s defense spending to 5% of GDP. According to General Herem, this would enable Tallinn to buy €1.5 billion worth of ammunition to “deter Russia or destroy its infrastructure” in the event of an attack.

Speaking to news outlet ERR, Minister Vorklaev said that when allocating 5% of GDP to defense, Estonia would have to introduce a broad-based security tax, adding, however, that the new tax would not be introduced until 2026.

The proposal has already sparked criticism, with Vadim Belobrovtsev, a member of the Center Party parliamentary faction, saying he could not imagine where €1.5 billion could come from. Authorities should keep the national economy in focus and think about “how we get out of this economic hole,” the politician said.

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Estonian Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur.
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Last year, the Baltic country’s GDP decreased by 3% and amounted to €37.7 billion ($40.8 billion), data shared in March by Statistics Estonia shows.

Earlier this month the Estonian government agreed to increase the nation’s defense budget to 3% of GDP between 2024 and 2027, from 2.85% last year and sharply up from the NATO’s 2% threshold to arm itself, as it seeks to counter a supposed threat from Russia. The former Soviet republic, which shares a 284-kilometer border with Russia, joined the EU and NATO in 2004.

Estonia has been on the frontline, along with Latvia and Lithuania, of the West’s confrontation with Moscow since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict in 2022.

Earlier this year, multiple senior officials from NATO member states, including the UK, Germany, and Estonia, alleged that Russia was planning an attack on the bloc within the next few years.

Moscow has consistently denied those claims, with President Vladimir Putin insisting that Russia “has no interest … geopolitically, economically or militarily … in waging war against NATO.”

April 24, 2024 at 04:41PM

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