Defense Minister calls for permanent Nato bases in Baltic

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Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Vejonis on Monday called for permanent Nato bases in the Baltic states in response to the renewed threat posed by Russia following its annexation of Crimea.


Speaking during a visit to the United States, Vejonis said: “ Latvian society is concerned about the long-term consequences for regional security following Russia's annexation of Crimea and the crisis in eastern Ukraine. Russia's aggressive and illegal behavior has changed the strategic balance in the region, so it is essential that the alliance maintains a permanent presence in the Baltic countries, especially in terms of troops on the ground.”

In a series of meetings with US officials, Vejonis praised the arrival of 150 members of the US Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade, saying their joint exercises with Latvian forces had been positive and that the Brigade had helped contribute to the general public's understanding of Nato's presence in the region.

Vejonis also called on the Latvian community in the US to put pressure on Congress in favor of permanent Baltic bases.

"Now is a crucial moment to bring the U.S. Congress and the government on board for a permanent allied presence in the Baltic states, so I call on the Latvian community in the US to use its accumulated experience to promote the adoption of this decision," Vejonis said.

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