Latvia and Finland share a strong backbone to stand up to Russia - PM Silina

  • 2024-05-24
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Cooperation between Latvia and Finland is intensive and we share a strong backbone to stand up to Russia, Prime Minister Evika Silina (New Unity) said today after talks with Finnish Prime Minister Peter Orpo.

In today's talks, Silina and Orpo discussed economic and military cooperation, defense matters, border security and hybrid threats, Ukraine's path to the European Union (EU), as well as the current issue of maritime borders in the Baltic Sea.

The Latvian prime minister said that cooperation between the two countries is intensive, they have common regional security interests and they both protect the Schengen, EU, NATO and their own borders. The prime minister agreed that the two countries can learn from each other - Finland has expertise in comprehensive national defense, while Latvia provides valuable expertise to Finland on hybrid attacks at the border. The heads of government will continue their close cooperation on issues like the instrumentalization of migration and hybrid threats.

Commenting on unofficial information about Russia's desire to change its maritime borders with Lithuania and Finland in the Baltic Sea, the prime minister said that at the moment "we need to be calm and react based on the facts". Silina noted the importance of the countries' mutual coordination and communication. 

"It is important that amid constant pressure from Russia and Belarus, we are all equally informed and equally able to react and not overreact," said Silina. She commended the security services of both countries for being "able to coordinate their actions on an extremely high level already now".

Orpo also stressed the need to stay calm and "see what actually happens". Orpo noted that Russia is testing the response of EU and NATO members and that countries should be well prepared for any kind of threat from Russia and continue to support Ukraine.

Asked where Finland stood on the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, Orpo avoided giving a straight answer, but noted that "nuclear weapons are an important and perhaps even the most important part of NATO's deterrence policy".

"We continue to develop our capabilities within NATO, we are continuously learning and searching for our role in NATO, but it is clear that we are absolutely committed to participating in all NATO activities. We are committed NATO members," Orpo said.

Silina said that Latvia can only be a political support in strategic decision-making. "If it is in our common interest to use our ability to influence Russia in this way, we will certainly use such a political decision," Silina said.

At the same time, the Latvian prime minister stressed that the countries are also bound by previous agreements on nuclear weapons. "It is not our priority that we want to advertise everywhere. We will use our experience and expertise, including our knowledge of Russia, so that NATO can make strategically wise decisions," said Silina.

After their meeting, the Latvian and Finnish prime ministers are scheduled to inaugurate the Patria military vehicles production plant in Valmiera.

The Latvian prime minister said that EUR 10 million have been invested in the plant. The plant will employ 40 people and produce 30 armored personnel carriers per year, with the possibility of increasing capacity several times. For his part, Orpo pointed out that the Patria plant is part of a wider project within NATO, which also involves Sweden, Germany and Poland.