NATO could deploy full time forces in Latvia, says minister

  • 2014-07-29
  • From wire reports, RIGA

NATO could deploy permanent forces in Latvia amid the Ukraine crisis, Latvia's defense ministry reports.

Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Vejonis said plans to enhance NATO presence in Latvia would be discussed at the upcoming summit in Wales.

''This plan includes many different various types of elements. Despite the fact that the Polish city of Szczezin has been mentioned as a possible location of a new military base, an official location has yet to be announced, and it is most likely a decision on this will be made during September's NATO Summit," A defense ministry spokesman said.

"Taking all of this into account, I cannot be sure that, for example, NATO bases will also be established in the Baltics, but this matter is still on the table." 

A U.S. military unit has been deployed in Latvia for the past several months whilst discussions are taking place regarding other countries who might send  soldiers to the country.

''These are matters which will be discussed during the Wales Summit, where we expect proposals on an enhanced allied presence in the Baltics to be approved," said Raimonds Vejonis.

"At the same time, Latvia is also in discussions with several allies, whose soldiers could in Latvia as part of a NATO rotation of troops."

Vejonis declined to comment on which countries could deploy troops in Latvia.

NATO allies have been invited to evaluate the possibility of establishing a large military base in Eastern Europe, so that the alliance could respond faster to any threat posed by Russia and defend alliance members in the region, British newspaper The Times reports

According to the newspaper, the military base could be located in the northern Polish city of Szczezin.

The shift in posture is being proposed by General Philip Breedlove - NATO's top commander in Europe. He plans to recommend placing supplies - weapons, ammunition and ration pack - at the headquarters to enable a sudden influx of thousands of NATO troops to be ready for action in the event of a crisis.

Breedlove emphasized that the alliance must look after the security of alliance members in Eastern Europe, especially in the Baltics.