RIGA - Latvia has shown tremendous leadership in providing security assistance to Ukraine, and is among the top contributors of military assistance to Ukraine relative to the size of its economy, said US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin during his meeting with Latvian Defense Minister Inara Murniece (National Alliance).
During the meeting in Pentagon, the officials discussed the security situation in the region and Ukraine, and both agreed that Russia's war in Ukraine has global and far-reaching implications, LETA learned from the Latvian Defense Ministry.
"Latvia and the US will continue to provide all possible support to Ukraine in order to facilitate Ukraine's victory in the fight with Russia for its own country and the rights to decide its own future. We may not allow that the international society gets used to the war in Ukraine. It is in the interest of the whole democratic world to achieve a complete victory of Ukraine and the defeat of Russia, because only this will allow the restoration of a rule-based order in the long term and ensure long-term peace in our part of the world," the minister said.
Discussion regional security challenges, Murniece informed her US colleague on Latvia's priorities and achievements in the defense sector, including introduction of the National Defense Service.
Murniece underscored that Latvia not only has invested more than 1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in military support to Ukraine, but also has earmarked 2.3 percnet of GDP in its budget for defense sector.
"Latvia continues to move forward with rapid steps to strengthen the military capabilities of our armed forces. We are in the final stages of signing an agreement with the US for the acquisition of coastal defense systems, after receiving approval from the US Congress. It is a real pleasure that on the Latvian side we have currently completed the work on all the documentation required for the purchase of the HIMARS missile artillery system. The next step at the moment is the preparation and signing of the contract itself," said Murniece.
The Latvian defense minister also emphasized the need for greater NATO involvement in the defense of the Baltic airspace and spoke of the intention to strengthen Latvia's air defense capabilities by purchasing medium-range air defense systems in the near future.
During the meeting, the officials also discussed the priorities of the US and Latvia at the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius this summer, as well as opportunities to develop military-industrial cooperation, and strengthen cooperation in development of Selija training ground.
Murniece underscored that the US is Latvia's most important strategic partner and a close friend, sharing common awareness of fundamental values and the necessity to defend them.
As reported, Murniece is on a working visit to the US on April13-15.