Defense Minister: No threat from Wagner to Latvia

Some of the “Wagner” group went to Latvia's neighboring country, Belarus, following the uprising in Russia at the end of June. The Latvian Ministry of Defense (AM) stresses that there is currently no military threat to Latvia and, even if it would arise, the services are more than prepared, Latvian Television reported on July 24.

Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko announced Sunday in St. Petersburg that Belarusians  were “unable to cope” with Wagnerians and the mercenaries wanted to go “on tour” to Poland.

The Director of the Center for the Study of Geopolitics, Māris Andžāns, assessed Lukashenko's remarks: “Lukashenko is already becoming a kind of Kremlin comedian who is very theatrical and interesting. [..] So full of sarcastic and ironic utterances. And I think they don't have to be taken too seriously. Of course, caution is never bad.”

The presence of Wagner in Belarus and Lukashenko's statements could be a deterrent, or their aim could be to distract the Western world from Ukraine, said Andžāns.

Armands Astukevičs, researcher of the Center for Eastern European Policy Studies, said: “This is not the first time that both the Belarusian and Russian sides come with such loud, provocative threats of attack. Including hybrid attacks. Especially for Poland. [..] So far they have not been implemented in any way."

Although these indirect threats on the part of Lukashenko are currently expressed directly to Poland, Latvia is also prepared to defend itself if necessary, said Minister of Defense Ināra Mūrniece (National Alliance).

“There are rapid response teams of the armed forces that are in readiness, there are units of the territorial national guard. And I want to say, if any scenarios are identified, then this readiness will be in place. There can be no doubt about this,” said Mūrniece.

Mūrniece noted: “If there is any threat to Latvia on the part of Belarus, the Belarusian regime will also be fully responsible for it. Latvia is a NATO member. A further scenario is also envisaged about what would happen in such cases. Nothing like that will be allowed. And if it had occurred to someone to act accordingly, then I can say that all such hazards would be reversed."

Public information shows that the closest groups of Wagner fighters are located about 200 kilometers from Latvia. Their actions are being followed by authorities.

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