During this week’s meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, also discussed was the strengthening of the alliance’s defense capabilities, including anti-air defense in the Baltics and critical infrastructure in case NATO reinforcements are need in the Baltic region, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics told LETA.
He said that these matters were discussed in relation with the decisions which were made at this year’s NATO Summit. However, the foreign minister refrained from commenting in more detail this matter, adding that this was discussed on the political level by NATO foreign ministers and practical work will be continued by NATO defense ministers and via NATO committees.
The minister confirmed that also discussed during the meeting was a possible NATO reaction to the situation in the Kerch Strait. Meetings with the Ukrainian and Georgia defense ministers were also held, where they explained their positions on what is happening in their respective countries. NATO members expressed their complete political support to Ukraine and spoke about ways to help train and develop the Ukrainian armed forces, Rinkevics said.
The Latvian foreign minister explained that the Ukrainian side once again explained what happened in connection with the situation in the Kerch Strait and current development in the country. ”Ukraine emphasized that it hopes for support from NATO member states within all international formats. Latvia will continue to strongly support Ukraine and exert pressure in Russia so that it released the captured Ukrainian sailors and ships. We must also help the Ukrainian armed forces,” the politician said, adding that the Ukrainian and Georgian colleagues had offered to form a closer cooperation mechanism between NATO and Ukraine and Georgia.
Decisions in this area have not been made yet, but NATO has offered the same cooperation model it currently has with Sweden and Finland. ”This is close cooperation in the exchange of information, as well as various types of cooperation in planning and organizing exercises,” Rinkevics said.
Another matter discussed during the meetings was the situation in the Western Balkans. ”The matter related to changing Macedonia’s name is progressing. The foreign ministers agreed that if this issue between Skopje and Athens is finally solved, then there could be 30 NATO member states next year,” the foreign minister said.
At the same time, also discussed was the situation in Afghanistan, where Latvia will continue to deploy troops to help train the Afghan armed forces until 2024, the minister added.