Latvia's Foreign Minister reiterates need for permanent NATO presence

During a meeting in Spain April 25, Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, pressed the need for a quick decision on establishing a permanent NATO presence in the Baltic states, as opposed to the current presence which is technically a long series of rotations of temporary personnel. 

Rinkēvičs met with the Minister of Defense of the Kingdom of Spain, Margarita Robles Fernández, in Madrid, according to a release by the Foreign Ministry. Madrid will also be the location of an important meeting of NATO leaders in June, at which a new "strategic concept" for the alliance is due to be confirmed.

According to the Latvian Foreign Ministry, Rinkēvičs noted that the Concept for the Deterrence and Defense of the Euro-Atlantic must be implemented, defense plans improved, and a new NATO force structure put in place.

"We expect an agreement to be achieved before the NATO Summit on the establishment of a permanent defense presence in the Baltic States, which is vital under the current security situation," Rinkēvičs was quoted as saying.   

 

That means agreement on a permanent presence would need to be confirmed within two months. 

The officials also exchanged views on support for Ukraine. Rinkēvičs welcomed Spain’s decision to double its military assistance to Ukraine and thanked Spain for its participation in the NATO enhanced Forward Presence battle group in Latvia and its regular contributions to the Baltic Air Policing mission.

Spain’s decision to increase the number of its troops in Latvia is a step towards a broader strengthening of NATO’s defense and deterrence in the eastern flank of the Alliance, the Minister said.   

A recent statement by the Prime Ministers of the Baltic States said that three combat divisions, one in each Baltic State, designated for collective protection and capable of integrating local national defense forces, would be needed to ensure a permanent presence of allied forces in the Baltic States.

As previously reported by LSM, Latvia is also considering the establishment of a new military base on its territory. Under existing agreements between NATO and Russia, no new bases are supposed to be constructed, but the Baltic states consider that by launching its unproviked invasion of Ukraine, such agreements are now null and void. 

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