Latvia needs to be able to oppose any kind of aggression and threats for a period of at least ten days, said Minister of Defence Ināra Mūrniece during a discussion of Latvia’s future defence concept on Monday, the 27th of February.
During this discussion various experts suggested multiple practical proposals to help improve defensive capabilities.
The National Defence Concept is a political planning document that dictates the country’s strategic objectives and operational principles. The existing concept was passed by the parliament in the year 2020.
The minister turned attention of the discussion’s attendees towards the fact that the NATO treaty considers an attack on one member state as an attack on all. In accordance with this treaty, each NATO member state is committed to maintaining and developing their individual and collective ability to oppose armed invasions.
As for the main threats in the region, Mūrniece said she does not expect any changes in Russia’s behaviour in the near future. In the war started by Russia in Ukraine she wants to see Russia’s defeat and Ukraine’s victory. Ukraine needs to recover occupied territories. It is also necessary to form an international tribunal to investigate and prosecute Russia’s war crimes, she said. Only then will there be any hope for lasting peace in the region, Mūrniece stressed.
Belarus, meanwhile, is taking an even more prominent role in Kremlin’s military strategy.
This is why it is expected to see possible threats coming from Belarus as well,
the minister warned during the discussion.
The also mentioned that the new geopolitical situation means it is necessary to update the concept as quickly as possible even though the law requires the parliament to review it in the second year of its term. The current Seaeima was elected in 2022.
Military analyst Mārtiņš Vērdiņš, Latvian National Armed Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Leonīds Kalniņš, Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rihards Kols and Saeima’s Defence, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee Chairman Raimonds Bergmanis at Next Four Years for National Defence Sector discussion held at the Latvian War Museum. Photo: Zane Bitere/LETAExperts mentioned in the discussion about Latvia’s future defence concept that in order to enhance the country’s defensive capabilities, it is necessary
to procure anti-personnel mines, learn Polish or Spanish language and hire retired foreign generals for consultations.
Opinions of attendees of this discussion was also taken in by experts from the Ministry of Defence, who may use them in the preparation of an updated national defence concept.
Military analyst Mārtiņš Vērdiņš said the international treaties binding to Latvia would not be beneficial in the time of a crisis. This includes, for example, the 1997 Ottawa Treaty for the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines. Mines are used in Ukraine despite this country having signed this treaty.
«This is because anti-personnel mines are an effective and cheap weapon we have denied ourselves. We have to understand that we will not have a front line and no defensive line using mines if need be. This is because we are committed to not store, produce or use these mines.» Vērdiņš suggested thinking about imposing a moratorium in relation to procurement and storage. He also suggested leaving the commitment to not use anti-personnel mines first.
As for the approach towards army supplies, Vērdiņš said supplying the army with military equipment will take many years. Procurement of military equipment must continue, but
Latvia will need to sign contracts with allies, so they store this equipment in Latvia,
making it easier to use in training. «This would be good if the day would come when allies no longer have to perform training in their use,» said the expert.
Vērdiņš also believes Latvia needs «realistic» military drills that simply cannot end without conclusions and notes about possible problems. This is why it is necessary to attract foreign specialists, such as retired generals, who would provide Latvian politicians opinions in regards to army-related topics.
Chairman of Saeima’s Foreign Affairs Committee and National Guard member Rihards Kols turned attention towards foreign languages. Although currently in the army there is an emphasis for officers to know English language, he believes it is also important to teach Spanish and Polish language.
Kols said he felt a language barrier himself when he as a member of the National Guard had to communicate with Polish tank crew, who did not speak English at all. Kols said it was because they are representatives of a big nation, and therefore had no need to learn English. As previously reported, Polish and Spanish troops are currently stationed in Latvia as part of NATO’s Battle Group.
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