Latvia has consistently supported Ukraine since Russia’s unprovoked invasion. Importantly, Latvia took considerable risks and provided military support to Ukraine even before Russia invaded despite the strong possibility that Russia might win quickly. These concerns subsided when it became clear that Russia’s plan to take Kyiv and achieve decisive victory against Ukraine failed. In retrospect, Latvia’s support for Ukraine was both morally right and politically prudent. This article, however, looks at the potential long-term implications of Latvia’s foreign and domestic policy responses to Russia’s war against Ukraine. The article looks at such key foreign policy aims as support for economic sanctions against Russia, holding Russia responsible for war crimes in Ukraine, and ensuring stronger NATO military presence in Latvia. On the domestic front, the article examines the potential consequences of removal of Soviet-era monuments in Latvia, limiting access to Russian media, and reducing the role of the Russian language in public communication. The article concludes that although these foreign and domestic policy measures are entirely appropriate, they may still backfire in the long run if Russia is not defeated in Ukraine and if domestic responses to the war further alienate Latvia’s Russian-speakers.
This article takes a comprehensive look at developments in Latvia’s security and defence policies since 2014. The annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of the military conflict in Ukraine provided a major impetus for Latvian decision-makers to counter external and domestic threats to national security. The article discusses three key aspects of Latvia’s post-2014 security and defence developments. First, it looks at the transformation of security perceptions on the policy-making level. Second, the article discusses Latvia’s efforts to strengthen its military capabilities. Domestic security developments are also discussed. Third, differences between attitudes of Latvians and Russian-speakers towards a number of security and defence-related issues are presented. The article concludes that much has been done since 2014, but progress has been uneven. It will take more than just a few years to close the existing gaps in domestic and external security of Latvia.