US will ensure a long-term military presence in Latvia - Spruds

  • 2024-03-15
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The United States will ensure a long-term military presence in Latvia, Latvian Defense Minister Andris Spruds (Progressives) said at a meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Washington on Thursday.

The US is an important strategic partner for Latvia, and its political leadership, investment in the development of our capabilities and military presence send a strong deterrence signal, the Latvian Defense Ministry told LETA.

"In our conversation with Defense Secretary Austin, we outlined the next steps to jointly strengthen collective defense. The US will ensure a long-term military presence in Latvia and will provide support in strengthening our military capabilities in various programs," Spruds commented on the meeting.

The two sides discussed Latvia's strategic partnership with the US and joint work on the acquisition of Naval Strike Missile anti-ship missiles and Himars missile artillery systems. They also discussed Latvia's progress in strengthening its defense capabilities, working towards the establishment of the Selija military training ground and the introduction of a national defense service.

The officials also discussed the forthcoming NATO Summit in Washington, where one of the main topics will be the further development of NATO collective defense and support to Ukraine.

Spruds underlined that US support is crucial to help Ukraine defeat Russia, as Ukraine is fighting for the security and values of the whole democratic world. Spruds also expressed confidence that the US will be able to reach a domestic political agreement on the essential aid to Ukraine.

During his visit, the US Defense Secretary also visited the Michigan National Guard, with which Latvia has been cooperating for more than 30 years. In the context of recent years, particular emphasis should be placed on cooperation in the development of Lielvarde Air Base and the training of Black Hawk helicopter pilots.

In the coming years, cooperation is planned to be extended to missile artillery, command and control and drone capabilities. The Michigan National Guard will also be involved in the development of the Selija training area.

In addition, Spruds met with several senior US Congressional officials.