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Friday 23.02.2018 | Name days: Haralds, Almants
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Vejonis: the west has made a mistake in assessing Russia by its standards

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUWestern countries have failed to assess Russia’s behaviour toward other countries in a correct way. This is because Russia’s development relies solely on internal development dynamics. This is why it is important to maintain a strong position and support from allies in the Baltic Region, said Latvian Defence Minister Raimonds Vejonis during a discussion held at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

Vejonis opened the discussion by saying that Latvia has learned multiple valuable lessons in its history. «First and most important lesson – democratic values are valuable not only for securing individual freedom, but also for defending our country’s independence,» – he said.

During the conversation about the security situation in the Baltic Region, Vejonis emphasized that even though Russia’s words do not comply with actions, the west believed there would be positive changes in Russia «It was our biggest mistake: to have assessed Russia in accordance with our standards,» – said the minister.

«We have made a mistake by ignoring the fact that Russia develops based solely on its own ideology. Its economy depends on raw materials, especially energy. This is why it is necessary for Russia to demonstrate military victories, which is something we have seen in the last couple of years.»

«Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is a clear signal of the country’s intentions to review the borders that formed at the end of the Cold War,» – said Vejonis. «This is the second time in the last five years when Russia has used military force against a sovereign country that had been a member of the Soviet Union.»

Latvian Defence Minister believes that Russia has become a long-term problem, as no changes in its internal policy and its behaviour in terms of foreign policy are expected to come in the near future. «With that, I see two large challenges in relation to Russia. The first one is the development of our ability to maintain a good level of security and compliance with international security commitments we have taken. The second challenge is the development and adoption of a long-term policy toward Russia,» – said Vejonis.

«We now know Russia can be held back using different means. First of all it is our ability to oppose aggression. Secondly, there are our allies, especially USA. Their presence in the Baltic Region can help ensure security. Thirdly, we need to deepen our understanding of Russia’s behaviour. All of these components can serve as good means to oppose aggression in our region,» – said Vejonis.

Latvian Defence Minister noted that hybrid wars are nothing new for Latvia: «We have been experiencing Russia’s hybrid war tactic for years. Russia has been trying to prevent integration processes in Latvia since the restoration of independence by using propaganda, financing different NGOs and using other means to influence people’s minds in order to sow distrust in the country.»

Vejonis mentioned multiple aspects that can help oppose symptoms of hybrid wars: «First of all, it is important to keep in mind that uncertainty of the situation is the main requirement for success of a hybrid war campaign. This is because such situations have too many uncertainties and questions. Secondly, we need to be able to identify and analyse problems. We need to know our own weak spots, flaws and vulnerabilities in order to avert uncertainty. Thirdly, strategic communication is immensely important, because it can help save our people’s hearts and minds from hateful influence even before a military conflict breaks out.»

During his meeting with Latvian communities in Washington on April 19th, Vejonis emphasized the role USA plays in ensuring safety of Baltic States. «Latvian diaspora has worked hard in USA in order to ensure Latvia’s admission in NATO. Now I would like to ask you to be more active and try to convince American politicians that it is necessary to ensure presence of American forces in Baltic States,» – said Vejonis in his speech to Latvians in USA.

On Monday, April 20th, Vejonis met with Senator Roger Wicker in order to inform him about developments and challenges in Latvia’s defence system. The minister thanked the senator for the contribution by USA to Latvia’s protection and asked him to continue supporting proposals related to the presence of American troops in Baltic States.

The senator was curious about Latvia’s defence budget and noted that its increase would play a major role in not only strengthening Latvia’s defensive capabilities, but also in securing support from its allies. Matters related to Latvia’s internal security were also discussed during the meeting, as well as steps necessary in order to improve NATO reaction abilities.

«The Latvian government understands the seriousness of the current geopolitical situation. We have decided to increase our country’s defence budget to 2% of GDP by 2018. Funding will be used to develop defence capabilities of our national armed forces and provide support to our allies’ troops currently present in the country,» – said Latvia’s Defence Minister.

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  1. Linda says:

    That assessment has always been the problem of the civilised world … to assess others by the civilised world standards and not to take into account the slowness of some countries to enter the club of civilised nations.

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