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Oppositionist: Latvia’s authorities blowing up “Russian aggression” to line their pockets

Andrei Elksnis. Photo from his personal social network account

Latvian Saeima member Andrei Elksnis (Harmony opposition party faction) blames the authorities for blowing up hysteria over “Russian aggression” and earning on purchase of outdated arms from Western Europe at exaggerated prices. The politician left a post on Facebook saying the money Latvia spent on acquisition of CVRT armored fighting vehicles would be enough to build its own tank factory.

“Are our defense ministers idiots or they just earn on the Russian threat?” the oppositionist writes. In his words, every time, prior to elections to Saeima, the ruling politicians warn about Russian aggression, which is growing at an exponential rate as elections approach. The politician recalls the last elections (October 4 2014) when the authorities announced an increase in the defense budget and acquisition of 123 armored fighting vehicles from Great Britain for 39.4 million pounds (47.67 million euro) to fight Russia’s aggression. Then Latvia had no armored fighting vehicles, while Lithuania has 197 and Estonia – 88. If there is really a Russian aggression as they say every time a Russian plane approaches the Latvian border or a Russian submarine is noticed not far from Latvia’s waters, let us buy armored fighting vehicles, the Latvian oppositionist writes. “However, after the armored vehicles were pompously delivered to the country, it turned out that the previous defense ministers lied about 47.6 million euro. Now we need 250 million for the same purpose. Actually, if before the elections they were speaking about additional 50 million for defense budget and nothing for teachers, medicine and indexation of pensions, after the elections, the amount rose at least fivefold,” the oppositionist writes.

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In his words, Britain that sold the armored fighting vehicles to Latvia decided not to use them starting 2020 and equip its army with more advanced vehicles. Meantime, Latvia will yet have to buy communication equipment and aiming devices, an anti-tank weapon, armor and other details for 527,000 EUR per armored fighting vehicle that was purchased for 344,000 euro. It turns out that Latvia spent 107 million euro for 123 armored vehicles and will have to spend another 143 million euro to equip them and train drivers. Instead, Latvia could build a tank producing factory, Andrei Elksnis writes.

In the meantime, he writes, Estonia bought 6-7 summer infantry fighting vehicles of the 21st century 44 CV-9035NL made in Germany for 100 million euro. Estonia will buy another 35 platforms for infantry fighting vehicles bought from Norway. This august, Lithuania will sign a contract for acquisition of 88 advanced multirole armored fighting vehicles from Germany for 350 million euro. “Will our ministers send soldiers to war on old tanks? Don’t they care for them?” the oppositionist writes. “Or maybe they have invented the Russian aggression just to rob the country?”

Earlier, the press office of the National Armed Forces of Latvia has reported: “In the exclusive economic zone at a distance of 7 nautical miles (12 km) from the territorial waters, the armed forces on 4 August identified a Russian submarine class “Kilo.” This is how Elksnis commented on that news: “Manual about how the procurements of the Latvian defense ministry are ‘promoted.’ Step 1. The press-office of the National Armed Forces of Latvia has reported that a Russian submarine approached the Latvian border on August 4. Step 2. The armed forces on 4 August identified a Russian submarine class “Kilo. Step 3. Waiting for the defense ministry to announce about the need to buy a bathyscaphe. ”

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