Latvian figures give their take on unfolding Russian coup attempt

Several prominent Latvian figures offered their opinions about the significance and likely course of events in Russia amid some extraordinary happenings across the eastern border Sunday.

An attempted coup in Russia by Wagner Group mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin is likely to fail, and the leader of the militant group is likely to be killed. This opinion was expressed by the commander of the Latvian National Armed Forces (NBS) Leonids Kalniņš in an interview with Latvian Television (LTV).

"I think it's Prigozhin's swan song. Sooner or later he will be destroyed, which Putin himself has in principle already ordered," said the NBS commander.

Jānis Sārts, head of the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence (STRATCOMCOE) said the longer and more extensive the struggle for power in Russia will be, the more potentially beneficial it is for Ukraine. 

On the other hand, Latvia and other neighboring countries of Russia should plan significant border strengthening measures, Sārts suggested.

"First of all, if it is possible to quickly get rid of the coup d'état launched by Prigozhin, then the impact will not be so great, but there will be some degree of demoralization [in Russia] in any case. On the other hand, if this struggle for power drags on, then think for yourself what it is like to fight against Ukraine, which is counter-attacking, and at the same time there is another armed struggle in one's own homeland. Presumably, the Russian troops would have little morale left. It's a real rebellion, it's an attempt at a coup d'état!" said Sārts.

Foreign Minister and President-elect Edgars Rinkēvičs said the internal strife in Russia posed no direct threat to Latvia at the moment, but the situation was potentially quite changeable.

"Just like last September when mobilization started in Russia, we said, and we can say now, that whether it was mobilization or the current events in Russia, these are not a reason to issue a humanitarian visa or any other type of visa to someone, or soften the rules of entry into Latvia. Fleeing from a coup or being a participant in this coup will not be a reason to come to Latvia and expect some kind of [special] reception," said the minister.

Latvia, together with Lithuania, Estonia and Finland, is coordinating enhanced border crossing control measures on the external border, and if necessary all four countries could jointly closing their borders with Russia and Belarus, he added.


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