RIGA - There is no direct military threat at Latvia's borders right no, but in the next five years, Russia might rebuild its military equipment and concentrate armed forces, Latvian Defense Minister Inara Murniece (National Alliance) said at a news conference Monday.
Peace in our world is fragile, and the situation can change. Besides, the next five years according to military experts' assessment is the time period in which Russia might again rebuild its military equipment and concentrate its armed forces.
Latvia therefore must do everything possible to bolster its defense capabilities, "so that at a critical moment, if it comes, Latvia would be completely prepared to stand up to possible military aggression," Murniece said.
According to the government declaration and a government-approved report, internal and external security in Latvia's top priority. The defense minister noted with satisfaction that this is not a declarative position but that the national defense sector has been provided with financing necessary to boost its capabilities.
That means that all the ongoing defense projects must be completed without a delay and at a faster pace than previously, Murniece emphasized.
Murniece indicated that the Latvian Defense Ministry has three priorities regarding missile systems - Latvia needs such systems for coastal defense against military vessels, for medium-range air defense and for rocket artillery.
As reported, Latvia plans to spend EUR 600 million from 2023 to 2025, or EUR 200 million annually, on air defense. At the NATO summit in Madrid last year, Latvia and Estonia signed a letter of intent on a joint purchase of air defense systems.
Whether Latvia will buy Nasams air defense systems has not been decided yet. Spain deployed a Nasams system in Latvia last year. Murniece expressed hope that the joint purchase will be organized soon.
Last fall, the Defense Ministry started talks with the United States on the purchase of Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace anti-ship missile systems NSM (Naval Strike Missile). Murniece voiced hope that an agreement on the procurement and deliveries will be signed this spring.
The ministry also continues a procurement procedure for the acquisition of six Himars artillery systems. Murniece hopes that an agreement for ordering these systems will also be signed in the spring.
Murniece informed that Latvia has received first two Black Hawk helicopters and that the Latvian military continues to receive Patria armored vehicles as well as RBS-70 short-range air defense systems.