RIGA - During the Covid-19 crisis, external security risks to Latvia have not increased, but the crisis has not in any way reduced the threat posed to the Baltic countries by Russia, Defense Minister Artis Pabriks (For Development/For) told LETA.
Although Russia also is now busy tackling the Covid-19 coronavirus, this in no way has diminished Russia's threat to the Baltics. "Not at all. Moreover, at this week's meeting of NATO defense ministers, I was not the only one talking about Russia," said Pabriks. "Everyone is aware that Russia and China are countries that potentially pose threat to us in various ways," he said.
During the pandemic, Russia has concentrated disinformation and propaganda attacks on Latvia and NATO. "They have become more concentrated, because Russia sees that the pandemic can be used in different ways," the minister added.
Even though external security risks to Latvia have not increased during the Covid-19 crisis, the main problem is that Latvia cannot fully assess all risks as a lot of attention has been diverted to other matters, said Pabriks.
"Our biggest problem could be that we underestimate these risks and that our or our allies' attention is occupied by other matters. There are examples in history of security problems when countries shifted their focus to other areas. For instance, the armed conflict between Georgia and Russia in 2008 started when the world's attention was occupied by the Beijing Olympic Games," said the minister.
During NATO defense ministers' meeting on Wednesday, ministers discussed the need to improve cyber security during the Covid-19 crisis, as Pabriks told LETA last night.