Ukraine's Ambassador to Latvia: Russian aggression against the Baltics 'is not unlikely'

The Ukrainian Ambassador to Latvia, Yevhen Perebiynis, stated in an interview with that the scenario of possible aggression against the Baltic States isn’t absolutely unlikely after Russia’s occupation of the Crimea and the start of the war in the Donbas.

“After the events in the Crimea and the Donbas, the scenario of Russia’s possible aggression against the Baltic States isn’t absolutely unlikely,” the ambassador said.

Perebiynis explained that Russian aircraft perform regular flights near Latvian borders and warships are constantly in the exclusive economic zone. These facts should be a matter of concern for Latvia. “This country takes it very seriously,” the diplomat stated. In addition, there is the powerful factor of Russian influence in Latvia.

“For example, everyone is aware of Latgale [a region in eastern Latvia near the Russian border], where the majority of citizens are Russians. When experts consider possible scenarios of Russia’s hybrid war against Latvia, Latgale is the main subject in these scenarios. The situation in Latgale is often compared with the Crimea,” Yevhen Perebiynis noted.

Meanwhile, the diplomat stressed that the majority of citizens in this region would be ready to welcome Russian servicemen in Latgale despite the fact that there is a similar background. “As I see it, people who live there appreciate everything that Latvia’s EU membership, democracy and freedom gave to them,” the diplomat noted.

“Analysts and military experts take such threats very seriously because they have the example of the Crimea before their eyes, despite the fact that these are hypothetical arguments. Indeed, who could expect, say, four years ago that Russia would annex the Crimea and carry out military aggression in the Donbas,” Perebiynis added.

In the light of this fact, Latvia pays considerable attention to security issues and strengthening its army. Latvia also has the National Guard – a specific reserve where volunteers are trained and taught – in addition to regular Armed Forces. “Their number is twice as much as servicemen from the regular Army, but they aren’t less professional. These people are ready to immediately defend the State in case of a security threat against Latvia,” the ambassador said.

In addition, Latvia’s NATO membership allows it to be confident about its security. What is more, the decision about the deployment of NATO contingents to Latvia and other Baltic States was taken at the Warsaw NATO Summit in July. Though these contingents aren’t very large and can hardly serve as a serious shield against Russia in case of open aggression, it’s a serious deterrent factor for Russia.

“It is one thing to decide on aggression against the small Latvian Army and quite another to decide on aggression against the State, where the US, Canadian, UK and German troops are located. It is a quite different level of risk for Moscow,” Perebiynis noted.

  Russia, Ukraine, Baltic States