Public statements on possibility of war are aimed at mobilizing Western countries - chief of defense

  • 2024-02-05
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA -  The recent statements about the possibility of war between NATO and Russia are mainly aimed at the Western countries and their mobilization, as they are "starting to get tired" of supporting Ukraine, Leonids Kalnins, Commander of the Latvian National Armed Forces, said in an interview with LETA.

Several Western leaders and senior NATO military officials noted that Russia's attack on a NATO country is possible within several years. Commenting on these statements, Kalnins stressed that he does not agree with such forecasts and does not consider it necessary to frighten people in this way, but that Latvia's border defense must be ensured "here and now".

Latvia has long mentioned Russia as a threat in its foreign policy risk assessment, and our defense strategy has been built on this premise, namely, to protect Latvia's territory from threats coming from the East. According to Kalnins, the National Armed Forces are making all the necessary preparations to build up the necessary reserves, both material and human.

"My opinion as the commander of the Latvian army, a NATO member state, is that I do not agree with such forecasts. All statements and forecasts about the possibility of war are aimed at mobilizing Western societies, which are beginning to get tired of supporting Ukraine. I want to say to the people of Latvia - don't worry, all these statements are aimed at Western societies to shift them from their post-Cold War disengagement to a readiness to invest in defense," Kalnins stressed.

Commenting on Russian President Vladimir Putin's repeated recent statement that Russia does not want to go to war with NATO, Kalnins pointed out that Latvia and its armed forces have long not relied on the Kremlin's words. "Our defense system was built from the start to deter the Russian threat,", Kalnins added.

Asked whether a clash between NATO and Russia could be different from the one seen in Ukraine, where a conventional war is taking place, Kalnins did not answer directly, but reiterated that he wanted to reassure the Latvian public and make it clear that the possibility of war had been discussed too much.

"In reality, the situation is no more threatening than it was ten years ago. We have always perceived Russia as a threat. We do not reflect on potential conflicts, but we do everything possible to exclude the possibility of war," the the commander said.

Kalnins referred to NATO's policy of deterrence. One of the primary aspects of deterrence is that the public feels secure and supports the country's defense policy. "And only then the strength of the armed forces follows," Kalnins added.