A degraded security situation, the Brexit referendum and the election of a US President at best indifferent to European security matters have led the Member States to search for new security and defence solutions and for new ways to demonstrate European cohesion.
Since Russia’s entry into the conflict in Syria in September 2015, the top brass and defense ministry have devoted increasingly more attention to the procurement of high-precision weapons systems. The Russian military has used various types of conventional cruise missiles during its operations in Syria, which has provided ample opportunity to combat test these systems.
This ICDS Policy Paper was conceived as part of the on-going effort by the Baltic states to give substance to the idea of closer trilateral collaboration in the defence-related research and technology (R&T) area. In May 2010, the ministers of defence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) concerning such collaboration, which is up for review in 2012. This LoI followed in the footsteps of a trilateral commitment of 2009 to establish a legal framework for R&T collaboration. The aim of the ICDS Policy Paper is to identify the areas of R&T in which collaboration between the Baltic states makes most sense, to determine the level of ambition they should aspire to and to propose a suitable ‘business model’ for such collaboration. It tries to take into account the experiences, current status, needs and future plans for R&T of each individual country, together with various contextual factors which may facilitate or, to the contrary, inhibit development of a collaborative R&T agenda. The paper was presented and its main findings as well as recommendations were discussed at the meeting of the national defence-related R&T coordinators of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which took place on 25 April 2012 in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Today, the Estonian Defence Forces rely mostly on in-house solutions to repair and maintain defence equipment. However, the existing infrastructure and machinery cannot cater for their long-term needs, the more so as it will be difficult to recruit and retain qualified personnel in adequate numbers in the longer perspective.
For Europe’s governments, reducing defence expenditure is an easy response to times of economic hardship. Few immediate effects are felt by the population – compared, for example, with cuts in education or welfare spending – and what effects there are tend to be local, rather than national.