Tomorrow, on 10 May, Latvia’s Minister for Defence Raimonds Bergmanis is going to Vilnius where he will meet his Lithuanian, Estonian counterparts and James Mattis, US Defence Secretary, to discuss defence cooperation.
While on his first official visit to the Baltic States, Secretary Mattis will meet with his Baltic colleagues to discuss the strengthening of defence capabilities in all three countries, as well as regional security challenges and presence of US troops in the region.
“Given the current geopolitical tensions in the region, it is absolutely crucial for Latvia and other Baltic countries to receive support from the USA. Moreover, Latvia and the United States of America have strong bilateral relations and cooperate closely within the framework of NATO,” underlined Minister Bergmanis before going to the meeting of four defence ministers.
US Defence Secretary and the three Baltic defence ministers will also visit General Silvestras Zukauskas training area in Pabrade and meet with Lithuanian soldiers and troops of the US-led multinational battle group stationed in Lithuania. Visit will include also the presentation of military equipment and vehicles.
Bilateral defence cooperation with the United States of America is one of Latvia’s defence policy priorities. Following the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia and military aggression in Eastern Ukraine in spring of 2014, the US military launched Atlantic Resolve, a military training project confirming USA’s commitment to strengthening of NATO’ s collective defence and readiness to promote peace and stability of the Baltic countries and Poland.
Baltic countries have traditionally had close defence cooperation. After regaining of independence, all three Baltic States established military cooperation between land, air and naval forces, as well as the responsible ministries.
Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion, BALTBAT, was the first joint project implemented by all three Baltic countries together. The tasks of BALTBAT include airspace surveillance and air policing, management and monitoring of air missions, as well as personnel training. Establishment of Baltic Naval Squadron, BALTRON, was the next cooperation project implemented by the three Baltic countries. The main objective of BALTRON is to develop countermine capabilities of all three states. Accession to NATO led to establishing of Baltic Defence College, BALTDEFCOL. The aim of the College was to enable military officers and defence staff of all three countries access joint education programmes.
Baltic countries are also active in facilitating joint military training, exchange of information regarding presence of allied forces and coordination of common position of all three Baltic countries in the international framework.
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Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Latvia
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