March 20, 2015

Drawing A Red Line

Martin Hurt, deputy director of Estonia’s International Center for Defense and Security, says Lithuania and Latvia should have spent more money on national defense during the past decade. Estonia is one of four NATO countries that spends the recommended 2 percent of its GDP on defense, and much of that has been used to bolster NATO bases on its turf.

Martin Hurt, deputy director of Estonia’s International Center for Defense and Security, says Lithuania and Latvia should have spent more money on national defense during the past decade. Estonia is one of four NATO countries that spends the recommended 2 percent of its GDP on defense, and much of that has been used to bolster NATO bases on its turf.

Hurt, who has worked for Estonia’s Ministry of Defense as well as for the armed forces of both Estonia and Sweden, says Estonians are not surprised by Russia’s aggression and never assumed the country was making great strides toward democracy during the past 10 to 15 years. “What we see now is not a different Russia. It’s just wealthier and has more resources than it did 10 to 15 years ago. And because it’s richer, it’s also more aggressive,” he said.
Russia has increased its defense spending by 80 percent since 2010, while NATO on average has decreased defense spending by 20 to 40 percent. In 1994 the Russian armed forces left Estonia, but the Russian security services stayed, Hurt added. The Russian FSB (the KGB’s successor) has been actively trying to recruit politicians and people in the defense sector and has become “more and more active as a result of their more aggressive behavior” and increased resources, he said.
Read more: World

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