Latvia suffers from flaws in border infrastructure, but has strongest support of armed forces - Kucinskis

  • 2023-08-22
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Latvia suffers from flaws in its border infrastructure, but the Latvian Border Guard has the strongest support of the armed forces, Minister of the Interior Maris Kucinskis (United List) said today in an interview on Latvian Television.

Commenting on upcoming talks of the Baltic and Polish interior ministers on a proposal to close the border with Belarus, Kucinskis said that the main condition for the border closure is that all the countries involved do it simultaneously, otherwise the expected effect will not be achieved. There is still a lot of uncertainty about the closure of the border, which is why Kucinskis expects long talks in which the ministers will discuss if and how this could happen.

Hybrid attacks from Belarus have been continuing on a daily basis, with 107 migrants attempting to cross the border illegally on Monday. It is also unclear what the Wagner mercenaries in Belarus will do, Kucinskis said, adding that if a joint decision is reached to close the border with Belarus, it would be a very powerful tool against the neighboring country. Belarus is well aware of this, so the next few weeks are likely to be very tense.

Kucinskis dismissed warnings that the border closure would increase the risks of illegal border crossings. He said that last week was a good test for Latvian border guards, when a whole convoy of human trafficking victims approached the border in such numbers that border guards had to call in the armed forces. "Perhaps the show of force made it clear to the other side that we are ready for any attacks," the minister said.

According to Kucinskis, Latvia has worked out several scenarios on how to respond if, for example, Wagner mercenaries attempted to invade the country. There are four levels of border protection and now, with more than 100 people a day attempting to cross the border illegally, the second level has been activated.

The armed forces currently play a major role in border surveillance. Kucinskis noted that Latvia is sometimes called the weakest link in comparison with its neighboring countries, but the interior minister argued that despite Latvia's flawed border infrastructure, " we have the greatest support from the armed forces, a greater emphasis on human surveillance, drones."