Rinkēvičs says EU, NATO must prepare for prolonged conflict in Ukraine
Latvian President Edgars Rinkēvičs underscored Russia's readiness for a long war and stressed the importance of Western support for Ukraine and Israel to resist attacks on European values and the global order
He shared his opinions in an interview with the Associated Press.
Rinkēvičs urged hesitant nations to continue supplying weapons, “Keep supplying arms. It is important to actually fight for international peace, and peace in Europe, because if we stop Russia in Ukraine, then Russia is not going to be able to challenge other countries.”
The President also pointed out the detrimental role of Wagner mercenaries in Africa and Russian engagements with Hamas officials who attacked Israel on October 7.
“Interestingly enough, at this point, the EU is more divided when it comes to the Middle East, rather than to Ukraine,” he said.
Rinkēvičs highlighted the importance of pausing conflicts in Gaza to aid Palestinian civilians. He mentioned that Iran is pleased with the Middle East's recent developments and continues supplying weapons to Russia for the Ukraine war.
It’s in NATO’s security interests “that both cases are viewed the same way,” he said. “I do believe also that it will be much easier for us to keep peace in Europe if Ukraine succeeds rather than let Ukraine down, or for that matter, also to let the situation in the Middle East get out of control.”
Rinkēvičs commended Ukrainian soldiers for their bravery, urging the West to respond to President Zelenskyy's plea for increased weapons support, “because we have not provided as much as we should have.”
He noted Russia's extensive preparations for a prolonged war, highlighting its shift in strategy after realizing a quick victory wasn't feasible. Rinkēvičs predicted future attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure similar to last winter.
Rinkēvičs emphasized the need for the EU and NATO to brace for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine.
“The EU has realized that we need more defense and military,” he said. “And at this point, I would love to see that this is going to be a bit faster process. But still, those things are now finally moving,” he remarked, highlighting that many European NATO members are yet to meet the 2% GDP defense spending target. Latvia, he revealed, plans to allocate 2.4% of GDP for defense next year and aims for 3% in 2027.
Expressing concern, Rinkēvičs suggested that if Europe and the United States fail to provide adequate support to Ukraine, it could escalate pressure on nations like Israel and Taiwan, while emboldening Iran.
Rinkēvičs asserted that Russia is transitioning from autocracy to a totalitarian regime, employing propaganda more severe than during the Cold War. He noted Russia's use of “brutal pictures or video or animation videos about destroying cities in Europe, or the United States, using nuclear weapons, saying that the use of nuclear weapons is actually just a piece of cake.”
He added that Russians are calling Ukrainians “kind of a lower human race — it’s very much resembling what Nazi Germany was saying about the Jews.”
In a legal development, the Riga City Court sentenced former Sejm deputy Jānis Ādamsons to 8.5 years in prison. The charges included espionage for the Russian Federation, fraud, and unauthorized acquisition and possession of firearms and ammunition.