VILNIUS - The new NATO defense plans, approved at the NATO Summit in Vilnius, provide for the defense of the territory of the member states from the first moment of conflict, Defense Minister Inara Murniece (National Alliance, NA) explained to LETA during the summit.
She pointed out that a similar approach has been implemented in Latvia's national defense concept, which will soon be submitted to the government for consideration.
Murniece stressed that NATO defense plans are a complex set of plans and military planners have done an honorable job. The Minister stressed that the new NATO defense plans are important and historic for Latvia.
"We need to think how to make these plans deliverable. This means that NATO member states have to delegate forces to implement the plans in order to ensure the defense of NATO territory. Forces can be delegated if there is sufficient defense funding," Murniece said.
She welcomed the fact that during the NATO Summit, Member States agreed to allocate at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to defense. This, in turn, means that there will be funding for increasing, strengthening and developing new capabilities. Latvia plans to spend 3 percent of its GDP on defense next year, and other Alliance members will also invest much more in strengthening defense capabilities.
Speaking about strengthening NATO's eastern flank, Murniece stressed that the Vilnius Summit is, in a way, a milestone in terms of how much Latvia has done to strengthen the alliance's eastern flank. The Defense Minister pointed out that the news is very good - Canada plans to invest in the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group to gradually build up a combat-capable brigade. The Canadians promise to bring 15 Leopard tanks to Latvia in the autumn and to increase the number of troops to 2,200, while Italy also plans to increase the number of troops and capabilities.
"NATO's defense, especially the strengthening of the eastern flank, is one of the things we are pleased about. Yes, we are halfway there, but the process, the dates, the types of capabilities are in place. NATO appreciates how much Latvia is doing to strengthen its defense, NATO's eastern flank and NATO as a whole," Murniece said.
Latvia's commitment to acquire new capabilities - missile artillery, coastal defense systems and medium-range air defense systems, which Latvia will buy together with Estonia - is welcomed, she said. Murniece pointed out that this would create a three-layer air defense, a strong ''Livonian shield''.
"The lesson of the Ukrainian are extremely painful and show how important air defense is. We are moving forward on this issue too. At the summit, Member States agreed to introduce a rotational model for both air patrols and air defense," the Defense Minister said.
She stressed that countries like Latvia, where the procurement of air defense systems is still in process, will need time to receive them. NATO members have agreed in principle that they will support Latvia's security not only with air patrols but also with air defense.