Baltic States Call for European NATO Countries to Reinstate Conscription

The presidents of Latvia and Estonia have called on European NATO countries to significantly improve their readiness for confrontation with Russia through a series of measures, including increasing defense spending and reinstating mandatory military service, according to the Financial Times.

Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics believes that European NATO members need to revert to Cold War-level military expenditures and seriously consider conscription to boost armed forces numbers. He emphasized that nobody desires war, but the threat of invasion and repeating what’s happening in Ukraine in their own countries is a significant concern.

In January, the British Army’s chief of the general staff, General Patrick Sanders, stated that society and ordinary citizens need to be prepared for war with Russia, suggesting the foundation of “national mobilization” and forming “armies of citizens.”

He argued against reducing the army to 73,000 personnel, as currently planned, and instead proposed increasing it to 120,000. Sanders likened the current situation to 1937 when Britain and its allies deliberated whether they would have to fight Hitler.

Recently, Latvia, Lithuania, and Sweden have reinstated conscription, and Denmark began discussing mandatory service for women in February. Estonia, Finland, and Norway have maintained conscription since the end of the Cold War.

Estonian President Alar Karis suggested European countries consider introducing a special tax to fund defense expenditures. With the U.S. accounting for 68% of NATO’s expenses, and its military budget in the previous year standing at $860 billion compared to Europe and Canada’s $404 billion, Karis argued for a more balanced contribution.

The Estonian government has proposed a “defense tax” to potentially increase defense spending to 3% of GDP, against NATO’s target of 2%. Although unlikely to be implemented before 2026, Karis sees it as a direct way to fund defense, ensuring people understand where their money is going.

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