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Leaders gather for Rīga defense summit

December 19 sees Rīga host a 'Summit of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF)' convened on the initiative of the Prime Minister of Latvia, Krišjānis Kariņš, with the support of the UK, as the framework nation. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is among the leaders attending.

The JEF is a coalition of nations (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom), and comprises high readiness forces capable of responding rapidly to crises in the 'High North' (Arctic region) and northern Europe.

Following the NATO summit in Wales in September 2014, the JEF Participant Nations signed a Foundation Memorandum of Understanding in London in November 2015, as reported by LSM at the time.

"At the Rīga meeting, the JEF heads of state and government intend to discuss the aggressive war of Russia in Ukraine and consequent changes in the security climate in the North Atlantic, Baltic Sea and the High North regions, with the emphasis on cooperation between JEF members in providing further assistance for Ukraine in its fight with the aggressor, and on measures to improve regional security," said an earlier announcement about the meeting from the Latvian government.

The first Summit of the JEF Leaders was held virtually on 25 February 2022, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine the day before. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom hosted a second in-person Summit on 15 March 2022.

"Holding the third meeting of the JEF heads of state and government in Rīga demonstrates Latvia’s role as an active and constructive player in shaping the security environment of the Baltic Sea and the High North region," said the Latvian government.

Leaders will discuss their response to Russian aggression, their aid to Ukraine and other matters relating to regional security. The JEF meeting will also be addressed remotely by President Zelenksyy of Ukraine.

The video below did show leaders recieving an official greeting from PM Krišjānis Kariņš at the Latvia National Library, but now appears to have been marked as 'private' by the powers that be. A shame, as it contained some enjoyable and genuine human interactions.

Once the meet and greet was complete, leaders sat down around a table and heard some introductory speeches from PMs Kariņš and Sunak, followed by the address from President Zelenskyy in which he thanked countries and their leaders for their support so far and restated Ukraine's need for more military equipment to continue the fight against Russia's invasion. 

In his introductory remarks, Kariņš said: "We're meeting in a very tough time indeed. There is open war in Europe. Russia is waging the war in Ukraine... we have, I think, in this format plenty to do. Of course, first and foremost is continuing to do everything to support Ukraine militarily, economically, humanitarily, as we have until now. It's important that we continue this and stand up against any Russian blackmail."

 

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