Home > News > World
Friday August 22, 2014 MYT 9:35:02 PM
Friday August 22, 2014 MYT 9:35:59 PM
by aija krutaine
RIGA (Reuters) - The Baltic states and Poland must invest in military infrastructure so they can host troops from other NATO nations for training or in case of crisis, Latvia’s defence minister said on Friday.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine have alarmed Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania – like Ukraine, former Soviet republics with Russian-speaking minorities.
NATO's 28 leaders are expected to discuss plans to reassure Poland and the Baltics at a summit in Wales on Sept. 4-5.
Germany’s Angela Merkel, during a short visit to Latvia on Monday, pledged NATO would defend the Baltic states, although it would not send permanent combat troops.
"Any country, including the Baltic states, also Poland, have to strengthen their infrastructure ... so they can host additional troops for training and crisis situations,” Latvia’s Defence Minister Raimonds Vejonis told Reuters.
In Latvia’s case that would mean investments in Adazi base for ground troops, Lielvarde air base and Liepaja naval base, he said, adding he hoped NATO would contribute to the spending.
Latvia and Lithuania spend respectively just 0.9 and 0.8 percent of GDP on defence but have pledged to meet the alliance's target of 2.0 percent by 2020.
"There is no direct military threat at the moment, but we have to develop our armed forces, we have to create infrastructure, we have to be ready to host representatives of NATO countries if there suddenly is a military aggression," the minister said.
"(Russian forces) carry out aggressive training close to our border, signalling how strong they are. We can’t leave it without reaction."
(Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Andrew Roche)
Iranian hard-liners said to intensify crackdown ahead of key votes
Britain finds allies as it calls for EU targets on cutting red tape
Venezuela lashes U.S., opposition amid blame over activist's slaying
Section of US rocket recovered off southwest England coast
Brazil dam disaster shows flaws in decrepit mining regulator
Eight experiences you can’t miss when in Australia
Air Asia free seat promotion begins today
Three ways companies can succeed in the age of disruption
Dressed up to take on the universe
Copyright © 1995-2015 Star Media Group Berhad (ROC 10894D)(Formerly known as Star Publications (Malaysia) Berhad)