Baltic Prime Ministers in Rīga: more help for Ukraine, more sanctions against Russia

Friday December 9 sees the Latvian government hosting a meeting of Prime Ministers of the Baltic Council of Ministers, with the participation of Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas and Prime Minister of Lithuania Ingrida Šimonytė.

The Baltic Prime Ministers were due to discuss further support to Ukraine through both international organisations and bilateral assistance, as well as their reception of Ukrainian refugees. The leaders also addressed the prosecution of Russia for its international crimes and the development of the next round of EU sanctions.

The Baltic Council of Ministers (BCM), established on 13 June 1994, is an institution for governmental co-operation between Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The meeting of the Heads of Government, which takes place at least once a year, is the highest decision-making body of the Baltic Council of Ministers. This year, Latvia holds the rotating presidency of the BCM.

"Today's meeting in Rīga took place between like-minded partners and friends, during which we discussed the four most important topics at the moment – the war waged by Russia in Ukraine, our common security, energy policy and the progress of the 'Rail Baltica' infrastructure project, Kariņš told reporters after the meeting.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the Baltic states stand united for even stricter sanctions against Russia and wider support for Ukraine, and that the three countries had been leaders in Europe in terms of sending both military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. 

"That will still continue. It's not the case that we started with help and it's all finished. Everything will continue. We are in a position of leadership," Kariņš told reporters, explaining that the Baltics have been able to persuade other countries of the need for concrete action.

"We, the three Baltic states, have been in the vanguard of demanding the introduction of sanctions against Russia and Belarus. With our example, we have shown the allies that Ukraine needs to be provided with even wider support," said Kariņš, noting that the common goal is to break Russia's imperialist aspirations, ensuring that Ukraine wins the war.

Also, the three Baltic prime ministers discussed the regional security situation and agreed that it is necessary to continue increasing defense funding to 3% of GDP and to implement the decisions of the NATO Madrid summit by increasing the presence of NATO forces to the brigade level in each country. Cooperation in the organization of joint procurement of armaments will also be continued.

According to a Latvian government release, when discussing energy policy issues, the prime ministers of the Baltic states agreed that it is necessary to improve the energy infrastructure and increase energy production capacities using renewable energy resources, and the need to continue work on the desynchronization of the electricity networks of the Baltic States from Russia and Belarus, which is planned to be implemented by 2025.

Regarding the infrastructure project "Rail Baltica", the Prime Ministers emphasized the importance of the project both in the economic and military spheres, and said efforts must be made to move forward faster in the implementation of the project.

In 2023, the presiding country of the Baltic Council of Ministers will be Estonia, which plans to hold the first meeting of the heads of government in February.

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