RIGA - Russia remains the most serious and direct threat to NATO, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (New Unity) said during the annual foreign policy debate at Saeima today.
Our response to Russia's aggression is better preparedness and resilience, as well as robust deterrence and defense, said Rinkevics.
Belarus continues its hybrid activities at the border of our state, said the minister. Alexander Lukashenko's illegitimate regime is utilizing illegal border crossing by third country nationals in pursuit of its goals. We will continue exercising decisive action to ensure the security of the border of Latvia and that of the external border of NATO and the European Union while adhering to humanitarian considerations and offers of help to people who need it, said Rinkevics.
Latvia's vulnerability must be reduced by increasing our contributions to defense. Latvia will continue investing in the development of its military capabilities and infrastructure in order to reinforce NATO's eastern flank, and gives thanks to its Allies for their presence in Latvia, emphasized Rinkevics.
"In the early days of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, the Allied decisions were taken on the strengthening of security in the eastern flank of NATO. Let me thank our Allies in NATO who have in addition deployed their forces here, in Latvia," said Rinkevics.
"We shall boost our defenses and make every effort to have a lasting presence of our Allies in Latvia. We shall provide Ukraine with all possible support - political, military, economic, legal, and also moral. We shall work on further international isolation of Russia and Belarus through expanding our sanctions policy," said the minister.
Latvia will strengthen cooperation with the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, and especially with partners in our region - Poland, the Baltic States, and Nordic countries, stressed Rinkevics. Latvia will also stand up for a strong EU, since only an effective EU is able to defend itself and help Ukraine. Economic transformation of Latvia will be facilitated by providing assistance to Latvian businesses as they seek to enter new export markets.
In 2022, due to the efforts of Latvia's society, public institutions, local governments and non-governmental organizations, Latvia became one of the countries leading the world in the provision of considerable assistance to Ukraine.
"At present, Latvia's support for Ukraine amounts to EUR 410 million. I would like to thank all Latvians who selflessly supported Ukraine last year, gave donations, and opened their homes to refugees. Not only are you helping Ukraine, you are also making our own country stronger. Thank you for the job you've been doing," said the foreign minister.
The Latvian Foreign Service will stand up for the EU's continued financial support for Ukraine, also helping to cover the daily financial needs of public administration functions. This year as well, Latvia will channel EUR million into reconstruction efforts in Chernihiv region, with special attention being paid to urgent priorities - rebuilding critical infrastructure and housing, and revitalizing business and commerce.
"Last year, Russia obliterated Europe's existing security architecture. Russia's war against Ukraine presents an alarmingly clear perspective of security questions that pose risks not only to the Baltic region, but also to the Euro-Atlantic space, and on a global scale," said Rinkevics.