RIGA - NATO member states have a moral obligation not only to continue but also to increase bilateral and joint military support for Ukraine, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (New Unity) said at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Bucharest.
As LETA was told at the Foreign Ministry, in a discussion on assistance to Ukraine, Rinkevics indicated that Russia’s escalating measures, including massive missile strikes on Ukrainian cities and critical infrastructure, as well as an irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, signaled that Russia had failed to achieve its strategic goals.
In the Latvian foreign minister's view, NATO must help help Ukrainian civilians, especially during the winter, to prevent a humanitarian disaster. Rinkevics noted that together with the Baltic and Nordic foreign ministers he witnessed the tragic consequences of Russia’s attacks on civilian and critical infrastructure in Kyiv.
"We must pool our efforts to help Ukraine restore its infrastructure heavily damaged by Russia’s strikes. Latvia will continue supporting Ukraine politically and practically through providing assistance to the Ukrainian energy sector for as long as it would be necessary, the Latvian Foreign Minister noted, while calling on all the allies to do likewise," Rinkevics said.
The threats Russia is posing to Euro-Atlantic security have not diminished, Rinkevics warned. Russia still remains the most serious and direct threat to NATO in a foreseeable future, he noted. Our response to Russia’s confrontational approach, military threats and hybrid activities must be better preparedness and resilience as well as strong deterrence and defense, the Latvian minister stressed.
"We must reduce our vulnerability and dependence, while increasing contribution into defence. Latvia continues investing in the development of its military capabilities and infrastructure in order to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank, and Latvia is thankful to the allies for their presence in Latvia," Rinkevics said.
In a discussion on China, the Latvian minister pointed out that the country should be seen as posing a challenge in the long term. In recent years, NATO has invested considerable efforts to raise awareness of China’s ambition, and the importance of a policy regarding our interests, security and values.
"We must continue to adjust our response accordingly. China’s assertive behaviour poses challenges and threats to our security globally and regionally. We must continue carefully evaluating the strategic partnership between Russia and China which could produce unpredictable consequences," Rinkevics underlined.
He also indicated that the alliance, all on its own, could not resolve complex challenges posed by China; therefore, Latvia supports in-depth cooperation with partners in the Asia-Pacific region and the European Union (EU).
On the sidelines of the ministerial meeting, Rinkevics together with his Estonian and Lithuanian counterparts met with UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. At the meeting, Rinkevics commended the UK’s contribution to strengthening security in the Baltic region and expressed interest in the promotion of interoperability of the armed forces and bilateral defense cooperation.
Rinkevics also had a meeting with the the Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky and thanked the Czech Republic for its participation in the NATO battle group. Rinkevics expressed a wish for deeper cooperation between defense industry companies in the two countries.
The Latvian minister also took part in a ministerial meeting in the G7+ format in support of Ukraine and in an official event to look back at the Prague Summit in 2002, which marked the launch of NATO accession negotiations with seven countries: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The process was concluded in 2004 with the accession of those countries to the organization.