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Latvian army opposes possible withdrawal from Ottawa Convention

The National Armed Forces (NBS) does not support Latvia's possible withdrawal from the landmine prohibition convention or the so-called Ottawa Convention, the NBS Commander Leonīds Kalniņš told Latvian Television on January 22.

On behalf of Defense Minister Andris Sprūds (Progressives), NBS carried out an assessment of Latvia's possible withdrawal from the Ottawa Convention. After the assessment, the armed forces call for Latvia's withdrawal not to be supported.

NBS Commander Lieutenant General Leonīds Kalniņš drew attention to the fact that the creation and construction of obstacles in national defense plays a very important role, but focusing solely on landmines – as a key factor in tactical success – is a simplistic approach.

Kalniņš emphasized that there are several operational aspects why the armed forces do not support Latvia's withdrawal from the Convention:

“First, landmines are just a small reinforcing element of anti-mobility barriers. Secondly, landmines are not effective against mechanized infantry and heavily armed units. Thirdly, constant monitoring of minefields 24 hours a day seven days a week would also require large human resources in peacetime.”

Kalniņš pointed out that for several years the armed forces have been focusing on priority directions, effectively strengthening the anti-mobility capability, for example, increasing fire capacity, introducing anti-personnel sensors to a large extent, while also promoting wider use of distance-controlled anti-personnel mines.

The NBS commander stressed that from a legal point of view, the Ottawa Convention does not prohibit the taking of anti-tank mines and distance-controlled anti-personnel mines, among other anti-mobility measures, to stop an attack by mechanized units while reducing civilian human and animal deaths, not only during conflict but also during peace.

“There are far more efficient and modern weapon systems than landmines - with direct or indirect firepower that allows the same or even more powerful effect to be achieved. We have been working purposefully in this direction in recent years,” Lieutenant General Kalniņš emphasized.

The NBS also drew attention to the fact that the Ottawa Convention has 164 States, so the acquisition of such landmines would be irrational, unpredictable, and very difficult given their availability and possible origin in non-Convention States.

The commander of the NBS also said that this issue has also been discussed with neighboring countries Lithuania, Estonia and Finland, and none of these countries will withdraw from the Ottawa Convention.

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