RIGA - There are mixed sentiments among Latvia's Russian speakers about Russia's aggression in Ukraine, which is why the state must send a clear message that there will be zero tolerance for "Putinists", Defense Minister Artis Pabriks (Development/For) said in a discussion on Latvia's defense, hosted by Turiba University.
The defense minister said that there is no place in Latvia for fans of Russian ruler Vladimir Putin and that they are "already starting to realize that".
It is also necessary to ensure as swift development of Latvia's military system as possible, Pabriks stressed. Latvia needs to develop its military industry so that it could manufacture necessary equipment also in a crisis situation.
"By and large, we have found ourselves in a war economy," Pabriks said.
Retired Brigadier General Gundars Abols indicated that the war in Ukraine is showing Russia's tactics and military abilities and that Latvia has to learn from Ukraine's experience and develop its defense capabilities, including the air defense system.
Ieva Berzina, a senior researcher at the Latvian National Defense Academy, agreed that military defense is a vital aspect in a war situation, but noted that the morale and patriotism of the population are also highly important aspects.
"The attitude, mindset of society are important," Berzina said, adding that there are many Russian speaking people who are also against the war in Ukraine.