Defense chief outlines eastern border defense plan

The commander of the National Armed Forces (NBS) Lieutenant General Leonids Kalniņš visited Daugavpils March 13 to talk about the role of the armed forces in strengthening the defense of Latvia in the east of the country. 

During his visit Kalniņš held a press conference as part of a concerted drive to reassure the public that effective defense is in place and will only get better as the result of a government allocation of 303 million euros for the purpose. 

Kalniņš emphasized that minefields will not be laid along the eastern border during peacetime, though plans will be in place to create them rapidly if the situation demands it. In addition, the implementation of the border defense plan will benefit the local economy, he suggested.

Kalniņš explained that anti-mobility measures will take the form of placing concrete installations of various sizes, metal obstacles and barbed wire at border points, but most of these will not be visible on a daily basis. They will not be on the road, but will be stored in special warehouses near the borders, so that, if necessary, the barricades and barriers can be rapidly deployed.

The NBS commander did not hide that not all reaction would be positive: "People live in different informational worlds, and one of the most important and main tasks, and also the message that the National Armed Forces recently spread, is that we need to think critically and weigh everything that is said both inside Latvia and outside the borders of our country. I am absolutely sure that pragmatic, critical-thinking people live in Latgale and Daugavpils and will weigh in which direction they should move, what messages to support and spread."

Dauagavpils mayor Andrejs Elksniņš recently issued criticism of the border defense plan, saying the money would be better spent on economic stimulation measures for the region.

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