Latvia on alert for Russia's 'hybrid warfare'

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said Monday that the country reserved the right to ask NATO for more reinforcements if the threat posed by Russia grows.

Speaking to LSM on the sidelines of a discussion organized by the Latvian Institute of International Affairs (LIIA) to discuss the results of the recent NATO Wales summit, Rinkēvičs said that while “hybrid warfare” as practiced by Russia in Ukraine was not currently being directed against Latvia, the country needed to monitor the situation on its borders in case of a Russian military build-up.

“What we see so far – and it influences public opinion here – is that if you have Russian TV channels broadcasting not even propaganda but simply fairy tales from the eastern part of Ukraine, it influences public opinion everywhere,” Rinkēvičs said.

“We also see attempts to influence public opinion of English, Spanish, French-speaking people because Russia Today operates or is going to operate in those languages. I wouldn't say per se those are warfare elements. They are targeted first of all to convince the Russian public, second to influence the Russian public in Ukraine and also by proxy to influence public opinion all around Russia in those countries where people understand Russian.”

“I wouldn't consider this currently to be an information warfare element, I see it as kind of an element by proxy,” the minister said.

“In case of any escalation of the situation we have at least two instruments. One is using normal military planning channels to analyse risks... and at the end of the day you always have Article 4 which provides consultation of all NATO allies on matters of concern.

“We have a toolbox – I do hope we will not use it,” Rinkēvičs told LSM.

During his address to the LIIA conference, Rinkēvičs described Russia's actions as “a challenge to the whole existence of the international order” using “an absolutely new form of warfare. We sometimes call this hybrid warfare... there is a combination of classical use of force with so-called green men, cyber attacks, information warfare and we have also witnessed unprecedented use of propaganda as part of this information warfare.”

“I still remember 1990s Soviet-type propaganda. What we have seen currently has probably surpassed all examples we have seen before,” the minister said.



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