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Compulsory military service, defence budget raise – Latvia to bolster its security

Latvia may have to increase its defence spending and introduce compulsory military service for its citizens regardless of their gender, to contain any possible security risks arising from Russia, Latvian President Egils Levits told Reuters on Monday.

NATO and EU member Latvia plans to gradually raise its defence budget to 2.5 percent GDP by 2025 from around the current 2 percent.

2.5 percent not enough

However, according to Egils Levits 2.5 percent might not be enough, instead he called for an increase to 3 percent, the same target introduced earlier by Poland.

The president of Latvia said that the existing spending plans covered building more military bases to accommodate additional NATO troops – an increase agreed at the NATO summit in Madrid last month.

“Security is the priority of our politics today,” he told Reuters. “2.5 percent (of GDP) is already committed now, but maybe it would not be enough and we should be prepared for that.”

Compulsory military service

Meanwhile, the country’s defence minister, Artis Pabriks, raised the prospect of reintroducing compulsory military service, abandoned in the mid-2000s. In turn, the head of the Latvian state suggested that the service should cover all citizens regardless of their gender.

I think we should have equality in this respect and I support this idea for all Latvian citizens of specific age, this should be done independently of their sex,” he said, as it would allow for a rise in the number of people with military skills in national reserve.

Both proposed changes – to military service and any increase in spending – will be reviewed by parliament before taking effect. The defence ministry wants the military service to start voluntarily next year before becoming mandatory from 2028.

BREAKING: Latvia will reinstate compulsory military service to counter Russia threat

— Samuel Ramani (@SamRamani2) July 6, 2022

The Latvian president also pointed out that he was not worried about Russia attacking the Baltic states, much owing to NATO.

“NATO is capable of defending each NATO member state and there is a very strong political will to do it,” Egils Levits stressed.

This summer marks the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the U.S. & Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania. The flyover in this video is a demonstration of support to Baltic allies & is only one of many ways our Air Force units fortify the relationship. #StrongerTogether

— Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones (@UnderSecAF) July 11, 2022

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