Latvian Foreign Minister: European leaders should not be afraid to provoke Putin and should not push Ukraine to make concessions

In an exclusive interview with CNN in Washington, DC, Rinkevics also outlined Latvia’s key goals in NATO’s approach to the eastern flank, namely a long-term military presence, and expressed concern about the growing food crisis caused by the Russian blockade of Ukraine. ports.

Rinkevich’s visit to DC came after US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said “Ukraine is at a defining moment on the battlefield” and the Biden administration unveiled a new tranche of military aid to Ukraine, a move to support Kyiv as the war draws to a close. its fourth month. The Latvian foreign minister will meet with lawmakers and Biden administration officials while in the country’s capital ahead of the NATO summit in Madrid later this month.

Although Rinkevics did not name names in his criticism of European leaders who he says are “afraid” to annoy Putin, he told CNN he was referring to “those who are well known, openly saying from time to time that they don’t want to see him.” humiliated, or that we need to grant some kind of congress” — a seeming blow to French President Emmanuel Macron, who said in early June: “We must not humiliate Russia so that on the day the fighting stops, we can build a ramp.” through diplomacy.”

Rinkevics said the approach was “irrational”, telling CNN that “the mentality in many capitals needs to change.” He also noted that the diplomatic contacts of world leaders with Putin in an attempt to force him to end the war have not yielded results, and said that, in his opinion, the Russians “can only be stopped by Ukrainians, only they are fighting.”

The foreign minister said the war in Ukraine was bigger than the Russian leader, noting that they would not have been able to start the war “without the support of the population … without this kind of brainwashing of the people through propaganda channels.”

He praised the United States for its military support for Ukraine and said that European allies should increase their wartime industrial production, noting that “we had this wonderful 20-plus years of downsizing, getting rid of all this junk, and then now all of a sudden we need for our own defense, we need to arm Ukraine.”

Moreover, Rinkevics told CNN that “no one should push Ukraine to make concessions to Russia” – concessions such as ceding territory to Moscow in order to stop the war. While this may work for a while, the foreign minister expressed doubt that this would be a permanent deterrent to future Russian aggression.

“Let’s not repeat this mistake. Russia is not fighting this war because of NATO expansion or because Ukraine is not a member of NATO or the EU. It is about destroying Ukraine, getting land, restoring the empire,” he said.

To prevent future military aggression by Moscow, Rinkevics said that “Russia must be in a situation where its military and economic machine is in such a state that it cannot launch any kind of military offensive”, and although he does not see an end to the sanctions of the current war, they could help contain a future war.

Send a “clear signal to Russia”

As NATO leaders prepare to meet in the Spanish capital later this month, Rinkevics said Latvia, which shares borders with Russia and Belarus, sees very concrete measures to be taken to bolster security in the Baltics, chief among which is a long-term Presence NATO troops.

The foreign minister told CNN it was critical to send a “clear signal to Russia” that it is a NATO territory and “not an inch” will be conceded, acknowledging that Madrid will only be the start of the discussion and decision-making process.

“What we want to avoid is a situation where parts of the Baltic states that are suddenly occupied and then liberated by NATO troops, and then we get new Buchasy or Mariupoli,” Rinkevich said, referring to the names of the regions of Ukraine. atrocities committed.

“So what we are talking about (about) inside is a change in the type of deterrence and defense, a kind of (through) punishment for defense and deterrence through preventing, preventing penetration into the Baltic states,” he said.

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