Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics has said that his country approves Finland and Sweden joining NATO, and notes that their addition to the alliance turns the Baltic Sea into “a NATO sea” in a Friday interview with the Financial Times.
Together with its counterparts in Estonia and Lithuania, Rinkevics expressed his eagerness to ratify the two Nordic countries’ membership applications. All three told the Times that they would benefit from the military strength of Finland and Sweden, especially Finland’s US fighter fleet.
Despite his inability to support Russia’s northern neighbors’ accession to NATO, Rinkevics is hoping for more NATO troops in his country. The transformation of the Baltic Sea into a NATO asset “does not change our demands for NATO to increase [the] The Baltic Sea Region “, FM said, adding that” there are still issues to be resolved “and that” the current security situation requires bolder plans by the alliance. “
While NATO sent 1,000 extra troops each to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from European member states earlier this year, the countries have demanded more and required brigades of 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers and an air defense upgrade that would allow them to shoot down Russian planes in case of aggression .
“Before the invasion of Ukraine, the Baltics claimed that they were worried that Russia might invade its region via the Suwalki Gap, the comparatively short (65 km) border region between Poland and Lithuania sandwiched between Belarus and Russia’s Kaliningrad province, also located on the newly christened” NATO Sea. ” All three nations are said to be increasing their defense spending to 2.5% of GDP, compared to NATO’s requirement of 2%.
Russia warned on Thursday that Finland’s membership in NATO would pose a direct threat and demand a response from Moscow following the country’s announcement that it plans to apply for such membership with a view to submitting a formal application as soon as next Monday. Finland shares a land border of 833 km (1,340 kilometers) with Russia, and although Helsinki has acknowledged that its neighbor does not pose a direct threat, membership in the bloc represents a direct escalation, placing a hostile alliance directly on Russia’s border.
Sweden reportedly plans to make its own formal request to join NATO next week, although some factions of the government are more enthusiastic than others about the outlook.