Russia’s Activities Make Us Seriously Concerned about Our Security…
Dear Minister Macierewicz,
In response to your letter dated 17 March 2016, first of all, let me express my highest appreciation for your contribution to the upcoming NATO Summit in Warsaw and the Alliance in general. Regarding your questions about Warsaw Summit, I hope you find satisfying the following information.
Latvia expects the NATO Warsaw Summit to be a hallmark for Alliance’s future adaptation that is to increase the overall security of transatlantic and adjust NATO capabilities development to match the ever evolving challenges. The most crucial decision to be made at the Summit for Latvia is the agreement upon modalities of Allied enhanced forward presence. We are very keen on pursuing the option of battalion level unit in each of the Baltic states and Poland that is planned and generated according to a long-term plan.
From the point of view of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Latvia, our greatest priority for national security is to ensure the continuation of our independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and wellbeing of our society. To ensure this, Latvia is intensively putting efforts in two directions simultaneously. Firstly, at a national level, we are working to increase our resilience and strengthen our National Armed Forces. Secondly, internationally, we are reaching out to Allies in order to create the most favourable conditions that increase our security and strengthens our defence, which in turn adds to the overall security of the Alliance.
Developments in the region and in international politics show that Russia is an unpredictable actor. Level of uncertainty is high. Russia’s aggressive rhetoric towards NATO and large scale military exercises next to our borders make us seriously concerned about our security. Simultaneously, Russia develops its military infrastructure, organizes large scale snap exercises and creates new military units just next to our borders.
The priorities of our defence capability development are early warning, detection, situational awareness and increase of combat readiness. Our focus is maintained on land-centric capabilities: development of the Land Force Infantry Brigade with integrated Combat Support and Combat Service Support elements, development of Special Operations Forces and increasing the readiness of the National Guard. To enhance our decision-making capabilities we are exercising procedures, as well as further developing our Command and Control system. The presence of the Allies in Latvia is one of the most important mechanisms of deterrence, therefore, Host Nation Support is also one of the highest priorities of the National Armed Forces and we are ensuring that the needs of allied troops currently positioned in Latvia are being met.
The commitment to fulfill the Wales summit decision is reflected in the steep 48% increase in defence budget this year in comparison to 2015. The Cabinet of Ministers has approved 2% of the gross domestic product as a goal for the defence budget for 2018. Most of the newly allocated funds will be invested in new and ongoing defence capability projects to enhance our National Armed Forces and to reiterate our commitment to strengthening NATO defence capabilities in its Eastern flank.
I hope this answers your inquiries and I wish you every success in organizing the upcoming NATO Summit. Once again please accept the assurances of my highest consideration.
Minister of Defence of the Republic of Latvia