RIGA – Latvia’s security situation has not changed significantly after the NATO-Russia talks, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (New Unity) told LETA.
The politician said that Latvia is a NATO and EU member state that participated in the dialogue together with other allies. On Friday, consultations are planned also in the European Organization for Security and Cooperation (OECD).
“In my opinion, we can not say that anything has changed for better or for worse in Latvia’s security situation after yesterday. In the same way, we cannot speak about any significant changes in the situation in Europe in general. The allies were united and strong in talks – further discussions with Russia are possible,” the foreign minister said.
Rinkevics said that the dialogue with Russia started only this week and initially it is a drawing of positions. In his opinion, right now nobody, including Russia itself, knows whether Russia will get engaged in talks about reducing tension, withdrawing the armed forces from the Ukrainian border, the size of military drills, information exchange and all other things that would result in increasing security for Russia and NATO in general. The minister said that if Russia is interested in improving the security situation, a dialogue with it should be continued.
“It is important that NATO and EU are united and strict,” the minister said.
“Everybody is ready for a serious diplomatic process with Russia. Everybody is ready to work to reduce tension, but without overstepping the clear-cut principles, such as collective defense and “open doors principle”. It is too early to tell what happens next. An agreement has been reached to work and continue the dialogue,” the minister said.
As reported, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that the allies had agreed to hold a series of meetings with Moscow on a variety of strategic issues.
NATO allies have “significant differences” with Russia over its demands for new security rules in Europe, but are ready to meet Kremlin envoys again, Stoltenberg said.
“There are significant differences between NATO allies and Russia on these issues, and the differences will not be easy to bridge,” he said after talks with Russia at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
“But it is a positive sign that all NATO allies and Russia sat down around the same table.”
Stoltenberg warned, however, that Russia would have no veto over any bid by Ukraine to join NATO and called for a “de-escalation” in Russia’s military build-up on its neighbor’s border.
“Ukraine as a sovereign nation, Ukraine has the right to self defense Ukraine is not a threat to Russia,” he said.
“It is Russia that is the aggressor. It is Russia that has used force and continues to use force against Ukraine,” he said.
“And then they’re building up with around 100,000 troops, artillery, armor, drones, tens of thousands of combat ready troops and threatening rhetoric — that’s the problem.”