The plans have been announced by the national public broadcaster Eesti Rahvusringhääling (Estonian Radio and Television). They referred to the words of Peeter Kuimet, chairman of the Department for International Cooperation of the Ministry of Defense, who said about the possible transfer of howitzers and Javelin ATGMs. Kuimet said that thanks to the possible handover of weapons, Ukraine, in the face of a difficult situation and the still real threat of an escalation of the conflict in Donbas and the ability to deter the enemy, will gain important military support. Tallinn would provide Kiev with an unknown number of missiles for the FGM-148 Javelin ATGM launchers already owned by Ukraine and 42 D-30 howitzers, which, as it turned out, had a short path that could be continued.
This turn of events is due to the replacement of the Soviet-made howitzers, which have served the Estonian 2nd Infantry Brigade for the last 13 years, with the more modern South Korean K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers, which were ordered by Estonia in the number of 18 pieces. Returning to the D-30, Tallinn obtained them from Finland in 2009, which in turn bought them from the German Bundeswehr, because it was customary to sell (often for a symbolic amount) the inherited from the German People’s Army (the armed forces of the former German Democratic Republic) ) military equipment.
In turn, the FGM-148 Javelin Estonia system has been in use since 2015 – then Tallinn received the first batch of launchers and ATGMs. Since this year, the state has been gradually replenished, which takes place as part of the technical modernization of the armed forces planned for 2013-2022. Eighty launchers and some of the guided missiles were obtained from the US for about $ 40 million in 2015-2016, and an additional 92 ATGMs were handed over to soldiers for free in 2020, complementing the multi-million purchase that was contracted shortly after the Russian aggression on Crimea.
The good intentions of this Baltic state towards Ukraine have a longer tradition and consist mainly in handing over withdrawn weapons, largely post-Soviet, to Kiev. One and a half years ago, as a donation, 2,400 Estonian Makarov Pistols were donated, which during the Soviet era were an extremely popular individual weapon among a wide range of services. The authorities in Tallinn also conduct English language courses for Ukrainian soldiers at their military academies and admit them to study, for example at the Baltic Defense College in Tartu. It is also about Estonia’s participation in a project co-created with Germany, worth 5 million. Euro donation of field hospitals, similar to the temporary pandemic clinics established in the city of Kuressaare.
However, in the incident we are talking about, there is talk of “more serious” weapons (which is further emphasized by the Estonian media as an unprecedented situation) that would eventually end up in a non-NATO country. Therefore, taking into account the origin of a given weapon, the approvals for the export of howitzers and ATGMs must be issued by the United States (which is the producer and supplier of Javelins), Germany (i.e. the original owner of the D-30 howitzers) and Finland ( as the next owner of these howitzers).
The willingness to more actively support the country threatened by invasion results from its own concerns about the integrity of the borders, as it is repeatedly emphasized that Estonia, as well as other Baltic states, may be the target of further actions by the Russian Federation. Let us also take into account the fact that the United States, since the seizure of Crimea by Russian troops and Donbas by separatists, more and more boldly supports Ukraine plunged in many years of civil war by providing non-military aid (e.g. medical funds, cash) and the supply of weapons, including the aforementioned system. Javelin, which appeared in the Ukrainian Armed Forces in 2018, or Mark VI patrol boats for the supervision of territorial waters, as well as small arms and ammunition. Most European countries, however, do not support Kiev with lethal weapons, so Estonia’s plans are important, also as a political gesture.