Andris Sprūds: rapid response and defence for the Baltics is at the core of NATO plans

02/16/2024 - 12:12
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Andris Sprūds, Defence Minister of Latvia, attended the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence and separate Ukraine Defence Contact Group meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on 14-15 February. Allied Defence Ministers met to agree on further steps towards higher combat readiness across NATO and additional support for Ukraine. Eight countries decided to join the Drone Coalition for Ukraine, an initiative led by Latvia, during the meeting.

“NATO’s military capabilities were strong and are becoming even stronger. Allies are firmly committed to one for all and all for one principle. It is clearly reflected in the decisions of this Meeting that have produced more detailed regional plans. We took a number of significant decisions. For example, NATO military command is now authorised to respond to threats immediately. We also decided to further enhance Alliance’s air and missile defence systems.

This also applies to Baltics. We agreed on command and control, combat support and crisis response protocols within the approved defence plans,” Defence Minister Andris Sprūds said following the meeting.

Ukraine Defence Contact Group meeting, which was held in hybrid format, focused on current and envisaged military support for Ukraine provided by individual member states. Members of the Drone Coalition for Ukraine, which was established by Latvia, agreed to invest in manufacturing of drones, which will then be delivered together with spare parts to Ukraine, where they will be tested and used to train the Ukrainian troops.

Drone Coalition led by Latvia has already been joined by 8 Rammstein group countries. “Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden will give the Drone Coalition a very strong core. Ambition of this partnership and cooperation is to provide Ukraine with one million drones,” Minister Sprūds underlined.

Drone Coalition will contribute to development of Latvia’s military industry, said Defence Minister. Latvia intends to spend at least 10 million euro over the next 12 months to bring the Coalition into the next phase. Ministry of Defence has received information about drones from Ukraine and has already reached out to local companies, inviting them to propose the structure of drone and spare part delivery to Ukraine based on specifications. 

Meanwhile, NATO-Ukraine Council meeting focused on NATO’s multi-year Ukraine assistance programme and further integration of Ukraine into NATO.

During the bilateral meeting, Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence of Canada, announced that Canadian Armed Forces members deployed to NATO’s Canada-led Battle Group in Latvia will soon receive new military equipment worth 188 million euro (CAD 273 million). This includes short-range air defence and anti-drone systems.

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