Latvia's Foreign and Defense Ministers push for more Ukraine support

Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defense are both in Luxembourg April 22 for important discussions on how to provide more aid to Ukraine as it defends itself from Russian aggression.

Newly-appointed Foreign Minister Baiba Braže and Defense Minister Andris Sprūds both gave brief comments to reports upon their arrival at the EU's Foreign Affairs Council – a practice still known as 'doorstepping' despite the fact that it is a well-orchestrated ritual.

In fairly lengthy comments, Sprūds said it was important to "unwaveringly support Ukraine" and in a later statement said: "The European Union must immediately decide on diverting the frozen profits of the Russian Central Bank to military support for Ukraine. These approximately 3 billion euros per year, together with the support granted by the European Union and its member states, would provide Ukraine with the ammunition and anti-aircraft defense that it urgently needs."

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Standing on her first doorstep, Braže introduced herself to reporters and said Ukraine is "fighting for all of us" and that Latvia would provide all the aid it could.

"It's a crucial time. We all know how difficult the situation is on the ground. If Europe has the ambition to manage conflicts on its continent, this is the time to show that," Braže said, adding that steps needed to be taken to clamp down on sanctions-dodging.

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In an account of the meeting given in a Foreign Ministry press release, Braže is reported to have told her collagues that “The EU must take action immediately: assistance to Ukraine must not decrease. By supporting Ukraine, we are strengthening the security, defence and military capabilities of the Euro-Atlantic space."

“Latvia expects the 14th round of EU sanctions against Russia to include a ban on the exports and transit of manganese ore and aluminium oxide. It is important to align EU sanctions on Belarus with the regime of sanctions against Russia,” she said.

The Latvian Foreign Minister also called for the issue of circumvention of the oil price cap to be addressed, as well as for an agreement to use the profits of Russia’s frozen assets in keeping with Ukraine’s priorities, especially its military needs. Latvia also expressed support for the proposal of Finland and Italy to launch a discussion on the establishment of effective mechanisms to combat the use of migration as an element used in hybrid attacks on the EU.

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