International community must weaken Russia's military potential, including by targeting Russia's supporters - Karins

  • 2023-12-28
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The international community needs to increase all forms of support to Ukraine and weaken Russia's military potential, including by taking strong counter-measures against countries, companies and individuals that support Russia, Foreign Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) emphasized in his annual report on the work accomplished and planned in the country's foreign policy and European Union (EU) issues.

The Minister stresses that Ukraine's victory will be decisive for the future shape and principles of the international environment. Russia's attempts to change national borders by military force are an example of efforts to destroy the rule of law and replace it with the dictates of force.

"Ukraine's fierce resistance to the aggressor, with the consistent help of its allies, has stopped Russia's military expansion and thwarted its plans to destroy the Ukrainian state and people, as well as preserved the unity of its allies and their support for EU and NATO integration," Karins said in the report.

In the Middle East, the attack on Israel by the Hamas terrorist group has caused a high number of casualties, creating tensions and exacerbating contradictions throughout the region, which risks escalating into a high-intensity regional conflict with global implications, the Foreign Minister said. Iran's support for armed groups and destabilizing forces is contributing to a further deterioration of the situation.

Karins also drew attention to the political instability and escalation of violence in the Sahel region of Africa, where Russian Wagner militants have had a significant influence. In Afghanistan, the Taliban remain in power and are a potential source of destabilization in the region.

Tensions also persist on the Asian continent, where North Korea has accompanied its missile tests with aggressive, anti-Western rhetoric, the Foreign Minister said, and there are concerns about the development of China's military capabilities and the increase of its activities in the region, particularly in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.

"The breakdown continues in the arms control system, where Russia has withdrawn from or is not complying with important arms control agreements. Regional and global security is undermined by North Korea's nuclear ambitions, as well as Iran's efforts in this area and their evasion of their obligations under international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation mechanisms," Karins said in the report.

He notes that China continues to build up its nuclear capabilities, while at the same time showing unwillingness to engage in strategic arms control mechanisms. Karins also explains that hybrid attacks in various forms are gaining momentum. The pressure of illegal migration organized by Russia and Belarus towards NATO's eastern border from Finland to Poland continues to grow and "is being and will be successfully repelled". Cyber-attacks and information manipulation operations by external forces are constantly being prepared and implemented. Critical infrastructure in the Baltic Sea region is under threat.

"The outlook for global economic growth is uncertain. It is affected by geopolitical tensions and the economic consequences of conflicts, the redirection of trade flows, the availability of energy resources and raw materials, unfair competition and non-compliance with international rules by some countries," the Foreign Minister said.

Karins explains that in the context of growing international instability, security is the most important task in order to implement the overarching goal of Latvia's foreign policy - to ensure the independence of a democratic state, sustainable security and the well-being of society. Latvia is therefore deepening cooperation with EU and NATO allies and partners, developing and expanding bilateral relations, advocating the use of the potential of multilateral diplomacy and international organizations, actively participating in regional formats of like-minded countries, with particular emphasis on the importance of cooperation between the Baltic States and the Baltic-Nordic countries (NB8) in developing a common voice.

According to the Foreign Minister, Latvia's approach is invariably based on respect for the principles of democracy, human rights protection and international law. Latvia's foreign policy is united and implemented in close cooperation with the President of Latvia, the Saeima, the Prime Minister, ministries, municipalities, social partners and civil society representatives. Continuity in foreign policy is maintained.

According to the Foreign Minister, Latvia has done a lot to strengthen its internal and external security in the context of heightened international tensions, where the implementation of a united foreign policy plays an important role. He stresses that Latvia is not directly threatened by military threats, internal stability has been ensured, and the conditions for economic growth and the well-being of the population have been secured. Significant investments have also been made to strengthen national security, with the defense budget reaching 2.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), the successful launch of the national defense service, and the increase in the size and capabilities of the armed forces.

Karins emphasizes that new defense systems are being acquired - air defense, coastal defense and missile artillery systems - as well as new military infrastructure. In his assessment, the military presence of NATO allies has increased significantly, both in terms of the number of troops and military equipment. Finland's accession to NATO and Sweden's imminent accession strengthen the security of the Baltic Sea region and the Euro-Atlantic area as a whole.

"Latvia continues to provide comprehensive support to Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression. Latvia's assistance amounted to 0.85 percent of GDP, and strong support has been expressed for Ukraine's integration into the EU and NATO. Latvia has contributed to Russia's further international isolation and has advocated for Russia to be held accountable for its crimes of aggression and war crimes," the report states.