Rīga Conference opens with warnings about Russia

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The main public discussions of the annual Rīga Conference got under way November 13 with Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg both emphasizing that Russia remains a threat.

Both men underlined that the longstanding threat from Russia remains, even in the era of COVID-19 and numerous other challenges.  

"Russia remains a great big problem," Kariņš said. "What we are seeing with Russia is they are showing no inclination to change," citing Ukraine, Georgia and the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh as examples of Russian involvement in other countries' affairs.

"They are not showing any indication of wanting to change," Kariņš repeated, adding that with regard to Belarus "the Russian leadership is not siding with the people and demanding free and fair elections".

"For the Belarusian people I can say we stand with them. We insist on free and fair elections in out neighboring country," Kariņš said.

"How to deal with that is not on a bilateral basis but on a multilateral basis... the EU, the US and NATO are a strong and formidable partnership that can stand up to Russia, can stand up to China, can stand up to injustice anywhere in the world," Kariņš said.

Similarly, along with some familiar words about NATO being "the most successful military alliance in history" Stoltenberg noted a "disturbing pattern of behavior" from Russia while admitting that "Russia remains our biggest neighbour. It is not going anywhere. That is why we maintain dialogue with Russia."

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