RIGA - Once Latvia acquires antis-ship missile systems, Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad will no longer represent a security problem for Latvia, Chief of Defense, Lieutenant General Leonids Kalnins, told lawmakers Monday.
Commenting on security threats from ships in the Baltic Sea, Kalnins indicated that Russia's plan involves creating a "bubble" by blocking airspace and sea territory so that Russian forces could freely operate in the Baltic Sea and protect Kaliningrad.
The only way to destroy this "bubble" is by ensuring robust sea defense capabilities. All three Baltic states have agreed on anti-ship missiles as one of their three priorities. An early warning system, which is being provided together with NATO allies, including the United States, is also an essential element of defense that has to be taken into account.
"As soon as we receive these missiles, we will have no problems with Kaliningrad at all," the Latvian chief of defense said.
Also, when Sweden joins NATO, "we can forget about the threat of Russian troops' potential landing". "Instead, Kaliningrad turns into a major problem for Russia, not us," Kalnins said.
As reported, the Latvian defense sector has three missile system projects the implementation of which has to be accelerated to beef up national defense. Latvia plans to acquire anti-ship missile systems NSM (Naval Strike Missile), medium-range air defense systems and rocket artillery.
Latvia plans to spend EUR 600 million from 2023 to 2025, or EUR 200 million annually, on air defense. At the NATO summit in Madrid last year, Latvia and Estonia signed a letter of intent on a joint purchase of air defense systems.
Last fall, the Defense Ministry opened talks with the United States on the purchase of Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace anti-ship missile systems NSM (Naval Strike Missile).
The ministry also continues a procurement procedure for the acquisition of six Himars artillery systems.