RIGA - Russia's full-scale war has fundamentally changed Europe's security environment, and these changes will remain in the long term, Defense Minister Inara Murniece (National Alliance) said while looking back at her first 100 days in office.
One of the priorities the defense minister has been working on during this time involves strengthening Latvia's defense capabilities at a faster rate than before.
Additional funding has been earmarked in Latvia's 2023 budget to accelerate the implementation of the armed forces' prioritized capabilities and to develop new ones.
The additional funding will be spent primarily on developing air-defense capabilities. The allocated funding will also enable a faster development of a new military training ground in the Selija region, which will be serving both as Latvian troops' training area and will allow Latvia to host larger allied forces and more military equipment. In 2023, Latvia's defense budget will make up 2.25 percent of GDP.
"Russia's full-scale war has fundamentally changed Europe's security environment, and these changes will remain in the long term. At present, there is no reason to believe that Russia's might change its political ambitions and behavior. To defend ourselves and deter potential aggressors, we need to do the maximum to boost our defense and military capabilities and development, and we need to do it without delay," Murniece stressed.
In the past 100 days, the bill on national defense service (conscription) has been significantly improved, making it more precise, clearer and focused on defense needs.
Also, taking into considering the significant changes in Europe's security situation and drawing from the lessons the Ukrainian armed forces have learned while defending their country against Russian invaders, the Latvian Defense Ministry has started work on a new National Defense Concept, which defines the country's strategic defense goals and principles.