RIGA - Latvia and Ukraine plan to develop defense industry cooperation, LETA was told at the Latvian Defense Ministry.
Latvia and Ukraine plan to exchange high-level visits soon to discuss this and other bilateral cooperation matters.
During a meeting with Ukrainian Ambassador to Latvia Olexandr Mischenko on Wednesday, Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks (Development/For) voiced concerns over Russia's military activities in Ukrainian territory and particularly the recent buildup of Russian forces along Ukraine's border.
Hostilities have been going on in Ukraine for more than seven years already, and Russia's current activities at the Ukrainian border are causing concerns about a possible military invasion, threatening Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Defense Ministry said. Latvia continues and will continue to provide military and non-military support to Ukraine, Pabriks said.
Latvia provides humanitarian relief to Ukrainians that have suffered in the warfare and also various training to Ukraine's armed forces both in Latvia and Ukraine. If necessary, Latvia will supply weapons as well, the defense minister said.
The Ukrainian ambassador thanked Pabriks for his forthright and frequently expressed support for Ukraine.
"Such support, when things are articulated clearly, is highly appreciated and necessary," Mischenko said.
The conversation of the Latvian minister and the Ukrainian ambassador also touched on Russia's ultimatum to NATO.
"Hostilities are taking place in Ukraine on a daily basis, and people continue to die. Russia's activities are not only of military nature. They also use methods of hybrid warfare, for instance, media, corrupt politicians, stoking chaos and panic inside Ukraine. Putin's Russia is doing everything to prevent Ukraine's integration with the European Union and NATO," Mischenko said.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Latvian Television last night, Pabriks said specifically that Latvia would send weapons to Ukraine. At the end of the year, the defense ministers of the Baltic states expressed a common opinion on the need to support Ukraine in supplying it with weapons.
The Minister of Defense and the Ambassador of Ukraine yesterday exchanged wish lists on the content of aid shipments, which are still being coordinated before Latvia sends them to Ukraine. "This will include arms and weapons equipment. We will do that. And, of course, we call on our allies in Europe to do the same. Because Ukraine has the right and it must also be able to defend itself. Ukraine is largely removing tensions from our own borders. In other words, Ukraine is fighting our war. And although Ukraine is not a member of NATO, it is not an ally in that way, it is our ally with exactly what they are doing. They are essentially defending us," Pabriks said.
Kyiv has been fighting pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country since 2014. The West have accused Moscow of having massed some 100,000 troops near Ukraine's border and getting ready for an invasions. Putin denies that his country's planning an attack, accuses NATO of fueling tensions and has demanded "legal guarantees" that the Alliance will not expand eastwards.