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Latvia returns conscription to deter Russia from invading Europe

Latvia returns conscription to deter Russia from invading Europe Latvian Foreign Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (Photo: Getty Images)

Latvia has reinstated compulsory military service for men of a certain age to deter Russia from invading Europe, according to Latvian Foreign Minister Krišjānis Kariņš.

The mandatory service came into effect at the beginning of January, just a few weeks before the two-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"We have reintroduced the draft. We're using that to increase the size of our active and ready reserve," said Foreign Minister Krišjānis Kariņš.

All male citizens aged 18 to 27 will be required to serve for one year, including those living abroad.

Latvia aims to prepare for a possible war

"Those who refuse to serve could be fined or imprisoned though some exemptions will apply, including for those with health conditions, single parents and dual citizens who have already served abroad," the material states.

Latvia seeks to enhance its defense readiness by expanding reserve forces and replenishing its arsenal in light of Russia's aggression.

According to Kariņš, strengthening defense now sends a signal to Russia that Latvia's bases and those of its European Union allies are covered.

"We need to be in such a state of preparedness that Russian generals and the Russian political classes clearly see that the direction of Europe is a no-go," he said.

The Foreign Minister stated that Russia needs to understand that European defense is fully operational and that gaining any advantages would come with immense losses, realizing that no gains are possible.

Latvia's plans

"Imagine a positive outcome of the Ukrainian war - all Ukrainian territory will be liberated and the war will end. But on that day, Russia still remains a threat," Kariņš said.

He also added that there is currently no direct military threat to any NATO member, and many arguments make it very difficult to imagine. However, the country still wants to prepare, not out of fear.

Conscripts in Latvia will receive a monthly salary of up to 300 euros and will be accommodated in army barracks. They will be allowed to take leave for up to one month.

Kariņš said that conscripts will be gathered into professional units to acquire necessary skills and provide complete equipment for combat operations. Latvia plans to have a combat-ready force of 61,000 personnel divided into active troops and reserve units.

NATO prepares for possible escalations

Earlier, the head of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, said that the alliance requires transformation, and the West must prepare for an era in which anything can happen at any time, including the onset of war.

His remarks came against the backdrop of delays or limitations in military aid to Ukraine from the United States and the European Union.

On January 16, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that Western wavering in support for Kyiv and fears of escalation with Russia could prolong the fighting for years.

Previously, the German agency Bild reported that NATO is planning large-scale exercises in February involving about 90,000 military personnel. The scenario for the exercises is a Russian attack on Alliance territory.

On the eve of the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council, where, among other things, resistance to large-scale Russian military aggression against the Armed Forces of Ukraine was discussed, the Chairman of the Military Committee of the North Atlantic Alliance, Admiral Rob Bauer, called on the world community not to fall into pessimism.