Following the introduction of sanctions, active propaganda activity was launched in Latvia. This activity has begun spreading misleading information and concerns about «bad times», says Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.
In his interview to Rīta Panorāma programme of LTV, Rinkēvičs claimed that if sanctions against Russia are not strengthened and the conflict in Ukraine escalates to the level of a full-blown war, regional economy can suffer even more. «If the current situation escalates into a full-blown war, there will be many refugees seeking asylum and the regional economy will be damaged badly. Consequences of this may turn out even worse,» – says the minister.
The minister also denies claims that sanctions against Russia will not benefit Latvia in any way and will only harm the country’s economy. He also said the talks about impact on Latvia’s economy are exaggerated. «There is no direct impact on Latvia’s economy […] However, we need to keep in mind that there may be responses to sanctions [from Russia]. We need to keep in mind that there may be different campaigns [against sanctions] in Latvia, that will likely say something like “bad, everything will be bad”,» – said Rinkevics, noting that he has noticed some signs of this.
At the same time, the minister encouraged residents not to over-dramatize the situation, because a lot is being said about potential impact on Latvia’s economy. He also believes that talks about how much sanctions are likely to backfire on the EU, as opposed to having an effect on Russia, is nothing more than empty claims. The minister explained that the belief that EU economy will be impacted is generally cultivated by Russian media, who are not allowed to critically view processes that transpire in their country. This is why they are practically forced to claim sanctions will backfire on the EU.
The minister also said that Latvia and the EU now have an opportunity to reduce their energy dependence on Russia.
Latvian Economy Minister Vyacheslav Dombrovskis has noted in his interview to Rīta Panorāma programme that international sanctions against Russia and Russia’s potential sanctions against Latvia could reduce Latvia’s GDP by 10%. And this is the most pessimistic outlook.
He added that if both sides continue to introduce sanctions against one another, ‘effects of those sanctions will be rather disastrous’. The minister did say that there will be no effect similar to the crisis of 2009. Nevertheless, he added, the potential crisis may still be very serious.
Dombrovskis added that exports of Latvian goods to Russia had declined by 17%-18% this May. The most potentially vulnerable industries in this regard are transit and food production.