Decisions Ukraine hoped-for will have to be postponed until NATO Summit in Washington - Murniece

  • 2023-07-13
  • LETA/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - The decisions that Ukraine hoped for at the NATO Summit in Vilnius will have to be postponed until the next summit in Washington, Latvian Defense Minister Inara Murniece (National Alliance, NA) told LETA, commenting on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's statements directed at NATO about uncertainty and weakness on the issue of Ukraine's accession to the alliance.

"I understand the President of Ukraine and the Ukrainians who had hoped that more would be achieved at this summit and that the outcome would be more positive. Latvia has done a lot to support Ukraine, including politically in NATO. We will support Ukraine always and everywhere. Ukrainians know they can count on us," the Minister said, adding that she had met Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on Wednesday to discuss projects Latvia could implement to support Ukraine.

Murniece explained that the NATO Summit in Vilnius had achieved a lot in support of Ukraine. On Wednesday, the NATO-Ukraine Council was inaugurated, which means that Ukraine is fully seated at the same table with all NATO members. Ukraine can initiate issues and convene the Council if it deems it necessary. This is a big step forward in the view of the Minister of Defense.

According to the politician, the summit agreed on a comprehensive support package for Ukraine worth EUR 500 million. This is not military aid, but support for Ukraine as a country that has suffered from war and has many needs. Latvia was one of the first countries to announce a contribution of EUR 2 million, pledging to contribute EUR 2 million each year over three years.

"We have always been the most supportive and have always stood firmly behind Ukraine, but I have to say that this was a joint decision by NATO members. The Vilnius Summit has done much more to support Ukraine than before the summit," Murniece said.

She pointed out that there are other formats besides NATO, such as the so-called Ramstein format. Countries continue sending military assistance. If a year ago there was still talk about whether the Ukrainian army should be supported with helmets and whether this would not be an escalation of the situation, then soon a coalition of tanks, a coalition of F-16 fighter jets was established and this work is continuing, for example, it has been announced that cluster munitions will be supplied to Ukraine.

"One step after another is being taken. Yes, we all want peace, we sympathize with Ukraine, we understand the pain and suffering that Ukraine is going through. I appreciate the support of the Latvian public for Ukraine. Indeed, a lot has been done, but then we realize that we can do even more," said the Defense Minister.

Speaking about defense assistance to Ukraine, Murniece stressed that Latvia is currently focusing on what Ukraine is asking for - training of soldiers. Compared to other countries with incomparably greater military resources and capabilities, Latvia has committed to train 3,000 soldiers this year, which exceeds what others can do.