Latvian, U.S. Defense Ministers stress united approach on Russia and Ukraine

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III reaffirmed the United States' current commitment to stand alongside its NATO allies against Russian aggression during a meeting with Latvian Defense Minister Andris Spruds March 14.

According to an account of the meeting by the Department of Defense, "The secretary commended his counterpart for Latvia's continued assistance in helping Ukraine defend against Russian President Vladimir Putin's ongoing invasion of Ukraine and urged all allies to remain steadfast in their support."

"You're here at a vital time for European security and global security," Austin said as he welcomed Spruds to the Pentagon

"Two years ago, Putin launched his all-out invasion of Ukraine. He assumed Ukraine's friends will give in, when instead we still stand strong against Putin's aggression. And together, we're helping Ukraine fight back against the Kremlin's war of choice." 

 "We must not let up," he said.  

During his meeting with Spruds, Austin noted that Latvia remains among the top European contributors of military assistance to Ukraine relative to the size of their economy.

"Latvia is donating more than 1% of its GDP to help Ukraine defend itself," he said. "That just proves that countries of all sizes can make a big difference to all of our security."  

Austin also noted Latvia's investments in its own defense capabilities, including recent purchases of High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, naval strike missiles and air defense systems.  

"These systems are crucial for your security and for NATO's collective deterrence and defense," he said.

For his part, Sprūds expressed his appreciation for the United States' leadership and echoed Austin's calls to continue supporting Ukraine.  

"The continuous support for Ukraine is absolutely indispensable and instrumental," he said. "I think we've done a lot together. Latvia believes that the steady unwavering support, continued support absolutely must be there."  

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