Mūrniece: NATO defense plans 'important and historic' for Latvia

The new NATO defense plans approved at the Alliance summit in Vilnius provide for the protection of the territory of the members of the organization from the first moment of conflict, Defense Minister Ināra Mūrniece told LETA July 12.

She pointed out that a similar approach has also been introduced into the Latvian State Defense concept, which will soon be directed for government viewing.

Mūrniece said that NATO's defense plans are "a set of complex plans" and that they are important and historic for Latvia.

“We have to think about making these plans enforceable. This means that NATO member states must delegate forces to the execution of the plans in order to ensure the protection of NATO territory. Forces can be delegated if there is sufficient defense funding," Mūrniece said.

She welcomed the agreement that, during the NATO summit, Member States had agreed to devote at least 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) to defense. This in turn means that there will be funding for increasing, strengthening and developing new capabilities.

Latvia plans to dedicate 3% of GDP to defense next year, while other alliance Member States will also invest much more in strengthening defense capabilities.

Speaking about strengthening NATO's eastern flank, Mūrniece said that the summit in Vilnius is in some ways a milestone on how much Latvia has done in strengthening the alliance's eastern flank.

The Minister for Defense pointed out that the news is very good – Canada intends to invest in NATO's extended presence in order to gradually establish a combat-capable brigade. In the fall, Canadians promise to bring 15 Leopard tanks to Latvia and increase the number of soldiers to 2,200, and Italy also plans to increase the number and capacity of soldiers.

"The lessons of Russia's war in Ukraine are extremely painful and show how important anti-air defenses are. On this issue, too, we are going forward. At the summit, Member States have agreed to introduce a rotary model for both air policing and anti-air protection," the Minister for Defense said.

She said that for countries such as Latvia, where the procurement of air defense systems is still in process, it will take time to receive them. NATO member states have agreed conceptually that they will support Latvia's security not only by air policing, but also by antiaircraft defense.

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