Defense Ministry will offer its vision for eastern border - Murniece

  • 2023-08-21
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The Ministry of Defense will offer its vision on how to improve the security of Latvia's eastern border, Defense Minister Inara Murniece (National Alliance) said in an interview on Latvian Television today. 

She stressed that the hybrid threat on Latvia's border is increasing and the data on it is very serious. According to Murniece, Latvian authorities' response has been very fast - the support of the armed forces to the border guards has been tripled, a new, flexible system has been created to enable quick action. Murniece promised that, if needed, support to the border guards will be further increased.

Seeing what is happening in the east of Latvia, both in Belarus and in response to the hybrid threat, the presence of the Latvian armed forces, soldiers and servicemen in the border area has been increased. A major military exercise Namejs is also planned in all of Latvia in early September, with special scenarios in the country's eastern regions.

"It is important for our citizens to see the presence of the military," said Murniece, commenting on the drills.

Meanwhile, if a decision is taken to close the border with Belarus, it should be implemented jointly by all Baltic states, in a coordinated manner, as otherwise the restriction could be circumvented. It is also necessary to figure out what the consequences of such an measure could be. These issues are scheduled to be discussed at the meeting of the ministers of the interior on August 28, Murniece said.

"Whatever decisions are taken, we need to quickly and urgently put the eastern border in order. Unfortunately, governments have been postponing, muddling and failing to address this issue, the process has been made too bureaucratic, and we need to look for new ways to fix the border," she said, revealing that the Defense Ministry will also come up with its own solutions. Murniece hopes that the Defense Ministry's involvement accelerate the pace of the process.

Murniece stressed that this is not only about border surveillance, but also about serious follow-up work - military anti-mobility measures. Latvia's defense plans and the new concept envisage guarding Latvia's territory from the first centimeter, which is taken extremely seriously.

It has already been reported that a meeting of the Baltic and Polish interior ministers is planned for August 28 in Warsaw, during which the situation on the border with Belarus will also be assessed. Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite has said that the Baltic states and Poland are discussing the possibility of a full border closure with Belarus, which will be finalized in Warsaw.

Closing the border with Belarus can only be effective against the hybrid warfare elements waged by the Lukashenko regime if it is implemented simultaneously by all three border countries - Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, Latvian Interior Minister Maris Kucinskis (United List) told LETA earlier.

He said that closing the border was a matter for discussion between the interior ministers of the countries involved, but that a concrete decision would be taken to the level of prime ministers.

Due to the pressure of illegal immigration, from August 11 until February 10, 2024, border surveillance will be reinforced in several administrative territories bordering Belarus. In view of the rapidly growing hybrid threat on the Latvian-Belarusian border, the State Border Guard is mobilizing additional border guards  to strengthen the protection of the external state border. The Border Guard has also requested additional support from the National Armed Forces (NAF) and the State Police.