Russian dual citizens to be banned from Latvian defense service

Latvian dual citizens who also hold Russian citizenship will not be allowed to serve in the State Defense Service (VAD). This is foreseen in the changes to the VAD law, which have been approved by the government on Tuesday May 21 and are still to be considered by the Saeima.

The Ministry of Defense has noted that the law currently allows a Latvian citizen who has dual citizenship, e.g. with Russia, to join the State Defense Service.

Although Russia is not among the countries with which dual citizenship can be maintained, exceptions are allowed if the government has issued a special permit or if the person has become a dual citizen automatically, by marriage or adoption. The Ministry of Defense does not consider that dual citizenship acquired under these exceptions would be in the national interest.

The Ministry considers that a person who wishes to establish or maintain a lasting, legal link with a country with which dual nationality is not permitted, and who wishes to be a citizen of that country, could potentially pose a threat to the interests of national security. Thus, in light of national security interests, the Ministry considers it unacceptable that citizens who hold dual nationality with the countries concerned may be conscripted into the state defense service.

Therefore, the Ministry of Defence proposed to amend the NDS Law by stipulating that only dual citizens who have dual nationality with one of these countries may serve in the defense service:

  • a member state of the European Union or the European Free Trade Association;
  • a NATO member state;
  • Australia, Brazil or New Zealand;
  • a country with which Latvia has concluded a treaty on the recognition of dual nationality.

State Defense Service (VAD) is mandatory as of this year in Latvia. Men aged 18 to 19 are conscripted as priority. 

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