The Baltics is a likely place for a conflict of Russia and the alliance if it comes to such a conflict, Latvian ambassador to NATO Indulis Bērziņš has said in an interview to Panorama showoff the LTV channel.
Nevertheless, Bērziņš expressed hope that the developments will not come that far. “Last fall, the situation was undoubtedly more deteriorating than it is now. If Russia for some reason, for instance because of the worsening economic situation decides to confront with NATO, of course, Latvia can be a likely place for such a conflict. But I don’t think this will happen. I think serious measures are taken to contain it. Our allies have articulated quite clearly that they will act “if something happens” in order to prevent Russia from ever doing so,” said Indulis Bērziņš.
“We have no choice. If there is no peaceful cooperation, we can only pack our hose with weapons to let our neighbor know that this is not the house where he can put his hands to,” the ambassador explained.
“Let’s see how Russia’s budget has changed, how much money they allocate for defense and munitions, including offensive weapons, while Europe has practically been disarming. For instance, Belgium’s military budget has been sinking. Unfortunately, the trend for cutting military budgets is still on. Thanks God, this is not true about Latvia,” Bērziņš continued.
He also said the Crimean scenario is possible in theory: “If there are many people happy to see the “green people” in the territory. Fortunately, it is hardly probable in the territories of Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia; the situation is different there. We have support, and if something happens there is someone who will come to rescue them.”
Bērziņš added that everyone has advantages and disadvantages, and Latvia’s disadvantage is that it has no self-confidence. “Probably, it is more dangerous for us than Russian tanks,” the diplomat said.
At the same time, he stressed that Latvian citizens are patriots: “Most Latvians, even those who do not speak Latvian in their everyday life, say: I am on the Latvian side, I am Latvian in a sense that I will stand for my homeland.”
It is noteworthy that the Latvian Defense Ministry thinks of a war conflict with Russia as a hardly probable one. At present moment, there are several hundreds of US troops in the territory of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania rotating every several months. Eight US air police planes are based in Amari, Estonia, and Siauliai, Lithuania.
In 2016-2017, US armored vehicles are expected to be delivered to the region. Supposedly, every Baltic country will have a package enough to equip a squadron of 150 persons.