Russia’s military has not been critically weakened during the first nine months of the war in Ukraine, says Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur.
“We have to be honest and clear: The Russian navy and air force are more or less the same size as before the war,” Pevkur told German news agency dpa during a visit to Berlin. Although the Russian ground forces have suffered significant losses, “sooner rather than later” they will be restored to the size they had before the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war on Feb. 24 or made even larger, he said.
Pevkur said Moscow would learn from its military experience in Ukraine.
“There is no reason to believe that the threat from Russia has decreased or the threat to NATO has decreased,” he said. The minister said Estonia plans to spend 2.84 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defense next year, and 3.2 percent in 2024, well above NATO’s 2 percent target.
Tallinn has so far spent about 1 percent of its GDP on supporting the Ukrainian military, said Hanno Pevkur, who also warned of the danger of “war fatigue” in Western countries.
“This is exactly what Moscow wants to achieve. Russia is ready to suffer for much longer,” the Estonian defense minister added.
Despite Pevkur’s assessment, there are others who say it will take Russia years to rebuild after the losses it has suffered on the battlefield, which includes both equipment and trained personnel.