Political signal must be changed, stressing that Ukraine will be supported until complete victory over Russian imperialism - Rinkevics

  • 2024-01-12
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Everyone says that they support Ukraine, but the political signal must be changed to stress that Ukraine will be supported until complete victory over Russian imperialism, Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics, who on Thursday welcomed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Riga Castle, told journalists at a news conference.

Rinkevics indicated that the Ukrainian president's visit is an opportunity to reaffirm Latvia's support for Ukraine's integration in the European Union (EU) and Euro-Atlantic integration. Rinkevics noted that to date, Latvia's support to Ukraine amounts to nearly 1 percent of GDP and that Latvia will continue to support Ukraine also this year.

Rinkevics said that he informed Zelensky on Latvia's new military aid package, which includes ammunition, howitzers, 155 mm artillery ammunition, anti-tank weapons, air defence missiles, mortars, all-terrain vehicles, hand grenades, helicopters, drones, generators, communication equipment and personal winter equipment and missiles.

"Latvia has undertaken to lead the so-called drone coalition in the Ramstein format to strengthen Ukraine's drone capabilities. I am glad that today, in the presence of Prime Minister Evika Silina (New Unity) and the President of Ukraine, two documents will be signed - a memorandum of understanding on the promotion of cooperation in the military sector and the implementation of joint defense and security industry projects. We see a fairly good opportunity to produce cheap and efficient drones in Latvia, which Ukrainian soldiers and armed forces are needing to succeed," Rinkevics said.

Also, Latvia and Ukraine will sign an intergovernmental agreement which will make providing assistance to Ukraine easier. Over the next three years, Latvia will allocate EUR 15 million to Ukraine's reconstruction programs, focusing mainly on the Chernihiv region, Rinkevics said.

According to Rinkevics, the European Council is expected to agree soon on a EUR 50 billion support to Ukraine. Latvia is ready to provide practical support to Ukraine in its integration into EU. The Latvian president admitted delays with the EU's commitment to supply a million artillery shells to Ukraine. A purchase of 155 mm ammunition and its transfer to the Ukrainian armed forces is currently being considered.

The officials also expressed support for the EU's sanctions policy. The president stressed that it is now essential to focus on ensuring that sanctions are not circumvented and that they become more effective. Rinkevics informed Zelensky about the law adopted by the Saeima on Thursday on the nationalization of the Russian-owned Moscow House in Riga. In his view, this is a first step, which will probably be followed by others in other countries to take over Russian resources and assets.

"Selling or otherwise using this building could also help Ukraine. There are two things we will definitely continue to cooperate on: the international tribunal to prosecute Russia for its crimes of aggression and the return of Ukrainian children. Our support for Ukraine's membership of NATO is absolutely clear and firm. This is the only real guarantee of security. We will continue to work to ensure that Ukraine receives not only accession pledges, but also concrete assurances on how Ukraine will be able to join NATO," Rinkevics said.

Zelensky thanked Latvia for support and principled position in standing by Ukraine both in the EU and NATO. He also thanked Latvia for the new aid package.

LETA was told at the Latvian Defense Ministry that soon Ukraine will be supplied with Latvian-made aircraft Tarragon and IT equipment. The military aid shipment will also include 155 mm artillery shells, 120 mm mortars, cannons, anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons, personal equipment and vehicles.

The Defense Ministry's Parliamentary Secretary Atis Svinka (Progressives) met with Serhiy Boyev, Ukraine's Deputy Minister for Strategic Industries of Ukraine, to discuss Latvia's further military assistance to Ukraine and the creation of the drone coalition.

As reported, according to data from the prime minister's office, Latvia has provided EUR 596 million in various forms of assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. In addition to the military assistance, Latvia is implementing a major training program for Ukrainian soldiers. This year, too, Latvia plans to train around 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers in its territory.

It has also been reported that the Ukrainian president arrived in Latvia today on an official visit. On Thursday evening, Zelensky is scheduled to meet with Saeima Speaker Daiga Mierina (Greens/Farmers) and Prime Minister Evika Silina (New Unity).