Slovakian mechanized unit arrives this week

Slovakia is sending a mechanized infantry unit to Latvia to further bolster NATO reinforcement of the country, the Latvian Defense Ministry said March 31. 

The Slovak Armed Forces mechanized line infantry company arrives this week and consists of around 150 troops from the 13th mechanized infantry battalion, along with a selection of equipment and vehicles.

The contingent will remain on a three-month rotational basis and will participate in the forthcoming exercises "Summer Shield XIV" and "Saber Strike 2017".

As previously reported, the initial agreement on the Visegrad countries' armed forces involvement in the Baltic region on a rotating basis was agreed in spring 2016.

Visegrad countries this year provide a presence in the Baltic region on a rotating basis: from January to March Czech forces were in Lithuania, which in the second quarter will be replaced by the Slovakian Latvia rotation, in the third quarter Hungary will have a presence in Estonia and in the fourth quarter Poland will send a contingent to neighboring Lithuania.

Meanwhile on 31 March, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs took part in the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Brussels.

Rinkēvičs emphasised that the upcoming NATO Summit should send a clear message about the strong bond between Europe and North America.

It is vital for Europe to meet its commitments made at the Wales Summit concerning fair burden-sharing among the allies. The Minister noted that Latvia takes very seriously its commitment to contribute to the enhancement of defense capabilities and has pledged to boost its defense budget to 2% of GDP next year.  

Edgars Rinkēvičs thanked the allies for sending their troops to the Baltic States.

In a discussion on NATO’s relations with Russia, the Latvian Foreign Minister called for a continued two-track approach – deterrence and dialogue. Getting back to business as usual in relations with Russia depends directly on how the country fulfils its international commitments, including the Minsk agreements, said the Minister. He also noted that the Russian-Belarusian ZAPAD 2017 exercise in its scale and scenarios is incomparable to any NATO exercise in the region.

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