Ukrainian PM Denys Shmyhal visits Latvia

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal is in Latvia Thursday, April 4 as part of a whistlestop tour to northern Europe.

His program included a meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Evika Siliņa in which the main focus was on supporting Ukraine in its brave defense agaist Russian barbarity and closer cooperation between Latvia and Ukraine in economic and security matters.

A joint press conference of the two Prime Ministers (in Latvian and Ukrainian) took place mid-morning and can be watched below. 

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The two prime ministers confirmed that they had discussed the Czech-led effort to obtain 155-millimeter shells for Ukraine, as well as the further development and adaptation of unmanned aerial vehicles as part of a Latvia-led initiative.

The Latvian Prime Minister repeatedly emphasized that Latvia is determined to continue supporting Ukraine in its fight for freedom, democracy and the right of Ukrainians to preserve their country and identity.

"If we want to live in a peaceful Europe and a peaceful Latvia, Russia must lose this war. We must use all our forces to stop Russia and its aggression as soon as possible," she said.

The Prime Minister said that Latvia continues to contribute to the support of Ukraine and its people both within the framework of bilateral agreements and internationally. Siliņa said that Latvia's total support to Ukraine so far exceeds 850 million euros, and by the time the April military package is announced, the total military support will reach 392 million euros, or 0.25% of Latvia's gross domestic product.

"We have planned to donate both material and technical means, armaments and ammunition, which we still have at our disposal. Especially ammunition is very important for Ukraine. We also discussed this with the Prime Minister of Ukraine today. Explosives, weapons, transport, individual and support equipment," said the Latvian prime minister.

Latvia plans to send drones worth about one million euros to Ukraine soon. Ukrainian colleagues have tested them and found them suitable for combat purposes, but in the future, Latvia also plans to send one or two personnel to Ukraine who could not only act as a drone control instructor, but also follow on the spot how the technologies used in the war are changing so that future drone deliveries could be even more geared for the task.

Siliņa also provided a reminder that Latvia cooperates with Ukraine in helping to restore the war-ravaged Chernihiv region. Five million euros have been allocated for renovation works in various ways, involving both non-governmental organizations and Latvian companies.  

For his part, Shmyhal said sanctions needed to be applied againt the entire military industrial base of Russia - including the context of nuclear energy, metallurgy and other areas. Separately, the subject of confiscation of assets of the aggressor state and their further diversion to the needs of Ukraine's reconstruction was also touched upon. 

"Latvia and Ukraine stand shoulder to shoulder, and I am sure that they will continue to do so in the future. Today we held fruitful and constructive talks on various issues, especially regarding military-technical assistance. Its volume has already exceeded 1% of Latvia's GDP, and it is an extraordinary expression of friendship and solidarity," said Shmyhal.

Shmyhal also thanked for the support given to the Ukrainian soldiers by Latvian medics, and restated his country's determination to move towards European Union (EU) and NATO membership with the support of Latvia and like-minded countries. 

"This support is especially important now, when the framework for the next intergovernmental conference is being approved, when the pre-accession talks between Ukraine and the European Union will begin. In addition, we are all convinced that NATO membership is the best security guarantee for Ukraine, as well as for other European countries [including] the Baltic States," he said.

Later in the day, Prime Minister Shmyhal met President Edgars Rinkēvičs and Speaker of the Saeima Daiga Mieriņa, as well as visiting the Latvian Occupation Museum. President Rinkēvičs expressed Latvia's unwavering support for Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration, and also emphasized Latvia's readiness to support Ukraine politically, militarily and financially until its victory.

During the meeting, Rinkēvičs also confirmed Latvia's support for the earliest possible start of negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the European Union (EU).

PM Shmyhal comes to Latvia direct from Estonia, where he had a similar program of meetings as reported by our colleagues at ERR News.


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