It is in the interests of the Russians to lose the war against Ukraine

What is Latvia’s gain from the Madrid summit?

We got the maximum of what we could hope for. And this maximum is what is coming to Latvia, not even talking about NATO. On the part of the USA, there is a promise to be in Latvia more often and more, but the USA does not agree to a permanent presence, which is set in stone. So far, the US presence has been significant: one unit leaves, the next arrives. The American presence will also be greater in Poland. The units there will rotate through the Baltics, which is good because the training will be held jointly by all the Baltic states and Poland.

The second significant gain: we are the only one of the Baltic states that has a written declaration with our allies about forming a brigade in Latvia – on the basis of the existing group that is already with us. There are three to five thousand people in the brigade. But the main thing is, of course, combat capabilities.

Did the Baltic states have a common position at the NATO summit?

It cannot be said that the position was shared.


Because the Lithuanians and Estonians had already agreed to various offers that came from the allies.

We were not in the same starting positions. But the Estonians – unlike us – do not have a division headquarters, they did not get what they wanted. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas spoke publicly about the NATO alliance’s defense plans for the three Baltic states – it is expected that Russia will be allowed to occupy them before they are released after 180 days. This was her dissatisfaction with what was achieved in the negotiations on security issues.

So NATO had such plans?

No, there were no such plans in NATO and there are none. After this announcement, many people tripped over me, saying that this is how the Prime Minister of Estonia defends her country, but ours – do nothing!

Then it was, as they say now, fake news? It’s hard to even appreciate this level of insanity. Sounds criminal…

If it were true, then the disclosure of such NATO plans would be a truly criminal matter.

But there was someone who told her the story of 180 days.

Let them deal with it themselves. Of course, Estonians are also angry about this situation at the moment. Does anyone really think that after Kallas told his version of 180 days, NATO’s position will suddenly change? This is complete absurdity, NATO’s position does not change that way. NATO’s position changes when we follow what is recorded (or not recorded) in documents, when negotiations take place, when we prove our point. The Americans understood us and stood by us because we proved what we needed.

It must be understood that NATO’s plans are super secret and it is not so easy to suddenly learn something and reveal it to the whole world. Believe me, Kallas got calls from many countries after this walkout and expressed his opinion, and it was not positive.

Of course, not everything is always smooth in the negotiations with NATO, we have discussions about military trainings – where they will take place, in what way, etc. Once upon a time, one expert – before the Russian war in Ukraine – had a version that Russia could possibly occupy part of the territory of the Baltic States, then NATO would release it, etc. But now the situation is completely different, because everyone sees what is happening in Ukraine.

Was there a change in the world’s attitude towards Russia at the Madrid summit?

It was felt. At the London summit, the leader of each other’s country said that NATO has survived itself. Back in 2010, Russia was a cooperation partner of NATO. Everyone now recognizes that NATO is in its place and time, and that Russia is an enduring threat.

Quite emotional: shouldn’t people be afraid?

There is absolutely no need to be afraid. But objective dangers should not be ignored either. But we don’t go to bed with fear: lest someone break into our house! We lock the door and activate the alarm. We must remember that Russia is a threat, so money must be directed to security and defense.

It is great that Sweden and Finland have almost joined NATO.

With the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO, we will gain strategic depth. Every country has to do its homework, and we have done it too: we will have a new military training ground. It will be located near Aizkraukles and Jēkabpils.

On Monday and Tuesday, I will be in the prime minister’s place, I will call the ministers and ask them to take responsibility for civil defense, because I am tired of justifying myself for everyone. Civil defense is not my responsibility. It is not my job to look for or build bunkers. Let, for example, the mayor of Riga Staķis go and find where to place them.

This question is often asked on social networks: I know about 72 hours and a backpack, but where do I go with it? Of course, almost everyone knows what rockets we should buy, but where do we go with that bag? – nobody knows that. Let the ministers, together with the municipalities, start focusing on this problem.

You must have planned something else while the prime minister is resting… He had to collect the votes of his compatriots in the USA last week, here in Latvia he regularly travels around the military bases. You are probably being told: The army is coming! You won’t chase him outside the bases either: a coalition partner…

I intend to say on Tuesday: we are planning a transition to general martial law. It will be hard, of course.

That is – compulsory military service?

Yes, but we don’t want to call it compulsory military service. Maybe someone will blame me: but you were against it before! No, I wasn’t against it. I said: until we have exhausted all options, there is no point in us changing the system so radically.

We have now reached the limit of growing power with the existing system. We need more people, we have five brigades – four national guards and one professional – which are not fully filled. We are fighting for their volunteering… Next year we will try to address the very youngest, those who are finishing school.

What will be the length of service?

We will write the year in the law. There are variations: a year or half a year, that is, if the young man wants to learn a profession related to the army or obtain a rank, he will stay in the service for a year. There will also be money for the new recruits, maybe not very much, but so that they have a little living on Saturday and Sunday when the guys are at home. With the help of general conscription, we hope to increase the numerical composition of the Latvian army at least twice.

But we cannot deplete the principle of voluntariness and the National Guard. All this remains. If a person says that he is joining the national guard, then we do not accept him in the army. Every year, for three weeks, the young person undergoes training in the National Guard – very good!

All this will require money.

Of course. Many countries are already starting to talk about increasing defense spending. We currently have 2.3%. But the problem is elsewhere: if we have, for example, 15,000 young people, I cannot say – let’s take them all! Where will I put them? We don’t need some kind of “Soviet army”, which was an aimless waste of time, we need a strong and educated army, each platoon should have a smart sergeant instructor, but there aren’t that many of them. Therefore, professionals should be trained at this stage as well.

Sounds hopeful. Only – will our Cabinet of Ministers agree to it?

I will report to the Cabinet of Ministers, after which it will have to be accepted by the Saeima. I would like the Saeima to vote on it in August or September, and the first call would then be in January, February. When we have 30,000-40,000 military trained people, plus an international brigade, we will be able to hold our own against a so-called zero warning attack. In addition, we will work together with Lithuanians and Estonians.

While Prime Minister Kariņš is away, something worthwhile should be done.

We intend to create a commercial company for military needs. It will be like a state commercial company, attracting investors and supporting Latvian entrepreneurs who are capable and interested in producing products for defense purposes. We need a powder factory, an ammunition factory, we need to produce everything here, locally.

Let’s talk about Ukraine. Do you think there is any hope that the Führer of the terrorist state, Putin, and his gang of thugs will ever be tried as war criminals?

It is hard to hope for that… There is no such experience with Russia. They have many supporters in the West. The only thing that could lead to a trial would be a situation where Russia has surrendered to international institutions, there has been a revolution in Russia, etc.

Putin is not the only one committing these war crimes. The bombed-out Russian people believe in him and adore him.

Russians are instilled with a sense of immense superiority, they say, we have never lost to anyone. But I already said in the NATO negotiations: it is actually in the interests of the Russians to lose in this war. When there is a loss, people start to look at life more realistically. Russians have never lived according to the classical principles of democracy and Western civilization, they do not know such. Because it is a completely different civilization, and that is what I am also trying to tell my colleagues in Brussels.

And those “Brussels” understand it?

Some are already beginning to understand… But it is one thing to understand, quite another to do. Someone good comes to me and says: you told all this half a year ago, we thought – you were exaggerating, now we see that you were right… In addition, there is a difference in expressions: not Ukraine must not lose, but – Ukraine must win.

In my opinion, “doing” also refers to European aid to Ukraine: it is so dosed that it only allows Ukrainians to survive, not to win.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what it is. There is significant help from the British, the USA, the Poles, the Swedes, we are also doing everything we can. I think that in the future there will be significant cooperation between the mentioned countries, including Ukraine.

What danger do you see in the existence of the Suwalki corridor?

There can be danger anywhere if the Russians have the ability and desire to screw something up. But it must be remembered that there is also a counter force: the American and Polish army in Poland, the German military forces and the Lithuanian army in Lithuania. I think that the pressure will decrease, because the EU interpreted that certain goods can be sent from Russia.

You participated in the talk festival “Lampa”. Interfrontist Ždanoka was also scheduled to participate in a discussion there. Is it normal to offer an expression platform to Latvia’s enemies?

This is a question for the festival organizers. It is a common opinion (which I disagree with) that all diverse thinkers should be given the opportunity to express themselves. Then I asked: if the Russians invade Latvia, will you run to interview the Russian occupiers to find out what they think? Maybe the organizers thought: if we invite Zhdanok, then we will better understand the Russian soul?

Zhdanok would be the last one from whom we would like to learn something about this soul… But we have already understood it even better – after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

If we have zero tolerance for Putinists, then we have nothing to talk about with Ždanok either.

Just as Latvian public opinion should be protected from zhdanoks and other anti-state “brains”, the idea was also to protect the skies of Ukraine from Russian airstrikes. This idea of ​​protecting the sky is no longer relevant?

It no longer has a military meaning. The Russians are no longer flying over Ukraine. They are afraid. They are now launching missiles from their territory. This means that the Ukrainians need even stronger air defense, more HIMARS missiles, which can hit enemy targets at a distance of up to 80 kilometers.

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