Defense Minister: NATO summit showed commitment to strengthen eastern flank

Canada has committed to investing 2.6 billion Canadian dollars (€1.76 billion) in defense of Latvia in the coming years, and the first results will be this year – 15 Leopard tanks will be brought in autumn, Defence Minister Inara Mūrniece (National Alliance) said in an interview on Latvian Television July 14.

Speaking of the results of the NATO summit in Vilnius, Mūrniece said that Latvia and the Eastern flank Member States may be very satisfied with the implementation of the decisions of the previous Madrid summit on the strengthening of the eastern flank.

“The Vilnius Summit reflected the commitment of the Member States to move in this direction, not only a change of thinking, but we have already reached action,” said Mūrniece.

This is reflected in both the commitment of Canadians to invest 2.6 billion Canadian dollars in strengthening Latvia's defense capabilities and the substantial reinforcement of the Canadian armed forces to 2,200 troops in the coming years.

“This will happen gradually, and the first results are promised by Canadians this year – 15 Leopard tanks are being brought in this autumn, additional soldiers and other equipment come along,” said Mūrniece.

Italy also agreed to increase its contingent in this fighting group, said Mūrniece. “It means we're on our way to building a brigade and it's absolutely essential,” she added.

The strengthening of Baltic airspace is also a positive aspect. “The sky above Latvia is getting safer, there will be additional training, there will be an additional presence from other NATO member states,” said Mūrniece.

“Latvia will become even safer than it was a year ago, in Madrid, when the Member States openly said that Russia is a threat and must be counted on in the long term,” the Minister for Defense said.

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