Defense Minister: Latvia should not withdraw from anti-mine convention

There is currently no military and international justification to withdraw from the Ottawa Convention, which prohibits the use of landmines, Defense Minister Andris Sprūds (Progressives) said in a statement to the media on January 22.

The Minister said he'd come to this conclusion after acquainting himself with the military evaluation prepared by the National Armed Forces (NBS) regarding the possible consequences of Latvia's withdrawal from the Ottawa Convention. The Minister has also discussed this issue with allies, including Lithuanian and Estonian defense ministers.

“The military assessment by the NBS does not justify withdrawing from the Ottawa Convention. The armed forces have and will have other effective anti-mobility tools in place to deter infantry and heavily armed units.

“These include controlled anti-personnel mines and anti-tank mines, which are a significant part of Latvia's defence capabilities and are already in NBS armaments. It should also be noted that 164 countries have acceded to the Ottawa Convention – all NATO Member States [..],” the defense minister said.

“The presence of NATO allied military units in Latvia is an important element in strengthening our security, as well as in ensuring the Alliance's deterrence and defense capabilities effectively and in implementing NATO defense plans in the region. Therefore, we are consulting with our allies on this issue and we have been reassured that participation in the Ottawa Convention strengthens our relations,” he said.

“To effectively deter the opponent, it is essential to coordinate with Lithuania and Estonia. Last week, the defense ministers of all three Baltic States signed an agreement to establish the Baltic Defense Line. It will strengthen our capabilities to protect the eastern border of the Baltic States and NATO militarily, ensuring that the movement of a possible opponent is delayed and blocked,“ Sprūds noted.

The minister also drew attention to the fact that the NBS has currently developed a detailed plan for military strengthening and anti-mobility of the eastern border, which will be submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers by the end of the month. It sets out ways to ensure the protection of the country and delay the adversary by various means.

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