Weather prevents Mūrniece from meeting NATO allies in Estonia

Latvian Defense Minister Ināra Mūrniece was due to be in Estonia January 19 for a key meeting with her counterparts from NATO allies Estonia, Lithuania and the United Kingdom. Unfortunately it turned out that she was not able to attend due to adverse weather conditions preventing her from travelling. The Polish Defense Minister was also weather-bound, but the Lithuanian Minister made it to the Tapa military base. Nevertheless, all were able to speak remotely.

Mūrniece, a former Saeima speaker, was due to meet Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur, Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas and United Kingdom Defense Minister Ben Wallace ahead of a meeting of defense ministers of the Ukraine contact group in Germany on Friday.

During Thursday's meeting, the officials discussed the current situation in Ukraine in connection with the war launched by Russia and its impact on regional security, as well as the provision of new military assistance to Ukraine.

The UK recently announced it would send Challenger battle tanks to Ukraine and pressure is mounting on Germany to allow Poland and Finland to send Leopard tanks, despite the apparent reluctance of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to do so.

All the countries involved in Thursday's talks are members of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) which met in Rīga exactly a month ago.\

Estonia used the occassion to announce more military aid for Ukraine worth 113 million euros which includes a formidable number of howitzers. 

Earlier this week, Mūrniece was in Ukraine on a working visit, where she met with Oleksii Reznikov, Minister of Defense of Ukraine in Kyiv, after which she confirmed that Latvia will deliver new shipments of military support to Ukraine in the near future including "Stinger" anti-aircraft missiles, helicopters, machine guns with ammunition and drones. Also, Latvia will continue to train Ukrainian armed forces soldiers of various levels, increasing the intensity of training, with the aim of training at least twice as many Ukrainians as in 2022.

Since the first day of the war, Latvia has provided comprehensive political, military, financial and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. So far, the support provided by Latvia to Ukraine amounts to 0.93% of GDP, or more than 314 million euros. Of this amount, approximately 300 million euros are the military support provided by the Latvian government to Ukraine, and the rest of the amount is funds donated by Latvian society as a whole.

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