Defense Ministry official: 'Latvia's defense capabilities invite Russian aggression'

Take note – story published 8 years ago

A new academic paper written by a senior desk officer at the Latvian Ministry of Defense gives a startling picture of the military mismatch faced by the Baltic states and Russia as tensions show little sign of abating.

The paper titled 'Latvia in Focus: National security options for the Baltic states' is published in magazine New Eastern Europe and re-published by, the news portal of the Latvian armed forces.

Written by Olevs Nikers, the paper makes worrying reading.

"The Baltic states know that their military capabilities will not hold up against Russia’s aggression as the NATO response might arrive too late," warns Nikers.

"Combined, all Baltic defence forces comprise around 22,000 troops, 448 heavy artillery pieces, and no tanks or warplanes. At the same time, the total Russian conventional capability consists of 845,000 troops, 5,436 heavy artillery pieces, 2,550 tanks and 1,389 warplanes."

Latvia is the most vulnerable and most important link in the whole Baltic defense and if occupied by the Russian army, there would be little chance for Estonia and Lithuania to survive argues Nikers.

Boosting military capabilities is of the utmost importance, as well as improving regional cooperation and improving efforts to integrate the region's Russian minority more effectively, Nikers says.

His conclusion is stark: "Current Latvian defence capabilities to a large extent invite Russian aggression rather than discourage it."

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