Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš is calling on NATO allies involved in military deterrence measures in eastern and central Europe to make their presence more robust and permanent.
In light of Russia’s ongoing invasion in Ukraine, Kariņš told CTV News Channel’s Power Play on Thursday in an exclusive broadcast interview that Operation Reassurance must shift its objectives to reflect the changing security dynamic in the region.
“Thinking about our own defence, NATO’s defence, what we need to do is to make it much more robust, we need to make it permanent. And we need to change it say from a tripwire defence … to an active forward defence,” he said.
He said in doing so, Russians would be deterred from attempting to advance into Latvia or its neighbouring countries in the future because it would be clear their advances would be stopped from the outset.
“We see what re-conquered territory means when we look at Ukraine. The territory will be completely destroyed, we know there will be killed, potentially tortured, etc., civilians. This is simply not acceptable,” he said.
Approximately 1,455 Canadian Armed Forces members are deployed in support of Operation Reassurance, making it Canada’s largest active international military operation. As part of that group, 695 soldiers are leading a Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia specifically.
Kariņš said enhanced military capabilities doesn’t necessarily mean increasing the number of soldiers on the ground.
“What we’re talking about is the division capability in each of the three Baltic countries, in Estonia, in Latvia and in Lithuania,” he said.
“Once military personnel speak of divisions, that entails that there’s a full range of defensive capabilities to handle any sort of contingency and to be able to react immediately – not in a day or two – but immediately in case of any incursion.”
Kariņš also discussed how his country plans to increase its defence spending, denounces Russian President Vladmir Putin’s claims that he’s been provoked by NATO’s expansion, and what he plans to speak with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about during their meeting on Thursday.
Watch the full interview at the top of this article.