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Russia using citizens abroad to exert influence, says expert

Jul 07, 2014
From wire reports, RIGA

Russia using citizens abroad to exert influence, says expert

Russia is using its citizens abroad in an attempt to resurrect its empire, former head of the Constitutional Protection Bureau Janis Kazocins said in a discussion earlier this week on the security of the Baltics and NATO.

''Russia is using all three of its foreign policy instruments in its attempts to regain influence - military power, economic power, as well as soft-power, which includes the use of compatriots abroad,'' Kazocins said, adding that Latvia must do its ''home work'' to ensure an adequate defense budget, cooperation and coordination with partners and well as the integration of the Russian community in Latvia.

The former security chief pointed out that after the occupation of the Crimea, Latvian residents were worried about the future, but later became a bit more reassured. The reason for this were the many signs of support from the United States and NATO that they will protect the Baltics if necessary.

''Latvian residents went back to their old ways and didn't worry much about defense matters. However, nothing anymore can be as it once was,'' Kazocins added.

The former head of the Constitutional Protection Bureau backed government plans to raise defense spending up to two percent of the GDP.

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