Sprūds: Russia's brutality cannot be underestimated

Russia and its brutality towards human life cannot be underestimated, Defense Minister Andris Sprūds (Progressives) said in an interview with Latvian Television on February 20.

“The situation in Ukraine is challenging and difficult, it is to be assumed that this may be the case for the near future, and Russia's aggression can be long-term. All possible resources must be sought to support Ukraine because it is not just about the war on Ukraine, but also about European values [..] and a norm-based world order that must be defended,” Sprūds said.

It is also essential to invest funding in the defense budget and military industry, he added.

“We are counting on a prolonged conflict – and it is both a conflict of will and a war of military industries and economies, so it is important to reinforce ourselves,” the minister said.

He refrained from judging the situation on the front, he called for reliance on the competence and professionalism of Ukraine's political and military leadership.

“Things don't always go as we would like on the front line. Let's not underestimate the opponent, but let's also not overestimate Russia's long-term ability to be a modern superstate, and Russia is also in the face of economic challenges,“ Sprūds said. “Let's also not underestimate the masses and this [Russian] total brutality towards human lives, including those of our soldiers.”

Commenting on pessimism after the Munich Security Conference on the ability to mobilize the West in support of Ukraine, Sprūds stressed that “overall we have always come to positive decisions” because there is a common understanding of Russia as a threat. “There are domestic political tangles that influence decisions on support, but right now support is and understanding Russia as a threat is,” the minister added.

Latvia allocates about 1% of its gross domestic product to Ukraine. “We are still providing support to [Ukraine] in terms of armaments - howitzer, anti-aircraft defense system and cannon projectiles. Latvia has done a great deal of training for Ukrainian soldiers – 4,000 have been trained in the past year,” the minister informed.

A drone coalition has also been formed, with Latvia and Britain leading the way. In total, there are nine countries in the coalition - Latvia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, and Britain - and it is planned to be joined by other countries, which the minister refrained from naming for now.

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