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Latvian Defense Ministry: No need to increase NATO presence yet

"Latvia believes that for now there is no need to increase the military presence of NATO in our country," Janis Garisons, State Secretary of the country’s Defense Ministry told LETA.

Recall that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg last week said that the alliance does not plan to strengthen its military presence in the Baltic countries. Commenting on the statement of Stoltenberg, Garisons said that he apparently meant the increase of three battalions of NATO deployed in the Baltic countries.

"At the same time, of course, we are working on the issue of deploying NATO forces in case of crisis in the region, as well as on existing projects. Though much effort has been invested in putting the infrastructure in order, we cannot take more of the Alliance's forces, as the possibilities are limited," the Secretary of State explained.

"In any case, now there is no discussion in NATO about the need to strengthen the parts of the above-mentioned battalions. We consider it important to include these elements in the general command and to integrate with the armed forces of Latvia. In quantitative terms, in the current situation, NATO forces in Latvia are sufficient," Garisons added.

As EADaily reported earlier, Stoltenberg, after a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on April 19, said that NATO does not plan to increase its military presence in the Baltic countries, which asked for "additional protection from possible Russian aggression". "At the moment, we do not plan to increase our military presence in the region, but we will strengthen our capabilities in case of need to send additional forces," said the alliance's Secretary General.

The day before Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania called on the US to deploy a larger American contingent in the Baltic area, and to strengthen air defense on the eastern flank of NATO. Recently, the alliance has deployed four multinational battalions in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

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