Top US general reassures Latvia as Russia fears spike

  • 2022-03-07
  • LETA/AFP/TBT Staff

RIGA - The United States' top general on Saturday tried to reassure Latvia of Washington's support, as the Baltic NATO member fears aggression from neighbor Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

Latvia, a former Soviet republic with a large Russian ethnic minority, received NATO reinforcements on the alliance's eastern flank bordering Russia in the build-up to the war, the AFP writes.

The US has deployed 1,400 soldiers in Latvia and dispatched around 20 Apache combat helicopters since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told local media he US was there to support the Latvian people and army, after reviewing US troops at the Adazi military base near the capital Riga.

Milley said the reinforcements are aimed to deter Russian aggression.

Under NATO's Article 5, all members must defend a fellow NATO nation if it is attacked.

But Milley ruled out imposing a no-fly zone above Ukraine -- a measure demanded by Kyiv -- as that would mean NATO would have to enforce it and "actively fight against Russian air forces".

"That is not something that NATO Secretary General (Jens) Stoltenberg or any member state's senior political leadership has indicated that they want to do," said Milley, the first high-ranking US official to publicly speak about the issue.