RIGA - Western countries must follow a long-term strategy of Russia's containment, otherwise new and potentially bigger wars will threaten security in Europe, Defense Minister Inara Murniece (National Alliance) said during the annual foreign policy debate in the Saeima today.
"At present, there are no reasons to expect positive changes in Russian politics. Russia is preparing for prolonged warfare, and Putin is not going to give up his imperialistic goals in Ukraine and other countries. Putin believes that by prolonging the war, Russia will manage to exhaust Ukraine and its supporters. We need to prove that he is wrong and that these expectations are irrational," the minister said.
Murniece indicated that NATO has unequivocally demonstrated its ability to adapt to fundamental security challenges and taka care of its members. Responding to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, NATO immediately beefed up deterrence and defense on its eastern flank.
The minister underlined that the United States is Latvia's strategic ally which has yet again asserted its commitment to supporting and defending Latvia. "The US ensures political leadership, financial support for the development of the National Armed Forces' (NAF) capabilities and the strengthening of military presence".
Commenting on persistent serious threats, the minister said that Russia has once more showed that it is a threat to transatlantic security, which NATO has acknowledged in its strategic concept.
"I believe that Western countries have to follow a consistent long-term strategy of Russia's containment, otherwise new, potentially bigger wars will threaten security in Europe. Western unity will be critical to ensure maximum long-term political, financial and military support to Ukraine as long as it takes," Murniece told the parliament.
The defense minister urged lawmakers to take a resolute action by supporting the bill on national defense service, which is currently being drafted by the Saeima Defense, Interior and Corruption Prevention Committee.
"It is in your power is to ensure that the National Armed Forces enlist the first volunteer conscripts already this summer. Delaying the launch of national defense service is impermissible," the minister stressed.
Murniece expressed special gratitude to Canada as the framework nation of NATO's enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia, as well as thanked Albania, the Czech Republic, Italy, Iceland, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and North Macedonia for contributing their troops to the battle group guarding Latvia's security.
Turning attention to support Latvia has been providing to Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression, Murniece noted that Latvia was one of the first countries to start providing military assistance to Ukraine even before the war broke out.
Latvia is preparing new military support for Ukraine, and once this cargo is delivered, Latvia's total assistance to Ukraine will have reached EUR 370 million, or 1 percent of Latvia's GDP. In recent months, Latvia has trained over 350 Ukrainian soldiers and is planning to train around 2,000 Ukrainian troops this year.