RIGA - The foreign ministers of the Baltic states and Germany during a meeting in Riga expressed unwavering support for Ukraine and called on Russia to stop its aggression, LETA was told at the Latvian Foreign Ministry.
On Wednesday, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (New Unity) welcomed the Foreign Minister of Estonia, Eva-Maria Liimets; the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, Gabrielius Landsbergis; and the German Federal Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, to Riga. The meeting of the four ministers focused on the security situation in Europe, support for Ukraine, and close cooperation in response to Russia’s military aggression, as well as energy security.
The foreign ministers reaffirmed their readiness to continue providing all possible support for Ukraine, whose needs are increasing day by day, as the country is defending itself against Russia’s military invasion. Rinkevics underlined that with the war raging on, Ukraine needs more help; therefore, the ministers discussed what else could be done together, also in the military sector.
Referring to volumes of assistance, both military and humanitarian, the Latvian minister noted that the Baltic states had delivered strongly in terms of percentage to their GDPs. Each country had supplied EUR 200 million worth of military assistance, to say nothing of humanitarian aid, which would be increased. We have a common strategy – to assist Ukraine as much as we can, Rinkevics said.
The Baltic foreign ministers underscored the need to reinforce and expand permanent presence of NATO forces in its eastern flank, while Germany reaffirmed it was prepared to do more for the benefit of the Baltic states’ security, as well as fully supporting NATO defense principles in the context of Article 5.
The ministers also exchanged views on transatlantic security ahead of NATO’s Madrid Summit to be held end of June. The Latvian foreign minister noted a common perspective on how the world and Europe had changed after 24 February calling for new non-standard solutions for the Alliance.
"We discussed practical matters concerning NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence in the region and what should be improved and strengthened," Rinkevics said, naming anti-aircraft and coastal defense, as well as deployment of more troops in the region as examples.
The foreign ministers of the Baltic states and Germany underlined the need for Europe to disengage from its dependence on Russia’s energy resources through diversifying energy sources and working to develop the renewable energy sector.
Russia’s aggressive policy will also remain there even if the active phase of the war in Ukraine is over, Rinkevics pointed out. "We must readjust our economies from cooperation with Russia to breaking off any contacts to the extent possible. Sanctions against Russia must continue and be increased, and the sanctions in the energy sector must be stronger," Rinkevics said.
During their meeting in Riga, the ministers issued a joint statement calling on Russia to immediately cease its aggression against Ukraine and withdraw its troops from the whole territory of Ukraine. In their statement, the ministers of foreign affairs of the Baltic states and Germany expressed their support for human rights advocates, democratic forces, free media and independent civil society in Russia.