Austin Says Latvia Is a Valued NATO Partner

  • Published
  • By David Vergun
  • DOD News

Latvia has quickly become a valued partner of NATO and the United States, said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, who today hosted an enhanced honor cordon and meeting to welcome Latvian Defense Minister Inara Murniece to the Pentagon.

Latvia and the U.S. had productive discussions at the Ukraine Defense Contact Group and the NATO defense ministers' meeting in February, Austin said, adding that he also had a great trip to Latvia in August. 

This is a crucial time for European security, Austin said. For more than a year, Russia has waged a war of unprovoked aggression in Ukraine, including against civilians and civilian infrastructure.

"The Ukrainian people have responded with incredible courage. The United States and our allies and partners have committed ourselves to supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes," he said.

The secretary also said Latvia has shown tremendous leadership in providing security assistance.

"You are among the top contributors of military assistance to Ukraine, relative to the size of your economy," he said, noting that Latvia has donated more than 1% of its gross domestic product to help Ukraine fight Russian aggression. 

"You've reminded us that all countries of all sizes can make a big difference in standing up for what's right, Austin said.

The secretary also commended Latvia for its investment in its own defense capabilities, including finalizing major procurements of missiles and multiple launch rocket systems.  

"These investments are crucial for your security and for NATO's collective defense and deterrence," he said.

The U.S. will maintain a persistent presence of forces in the Baltics through regular rotations. "The United States remains fully committed to Latvia's defense and to Article 5," he said, referring to NATO's commitment to collective defense if any member is attacked.

Murniece said the U.S. is a valued partner and she emphasized the importance of enduring support for Ukraine. 

The defense minister noted that Latvia spends 2.3% of its GDP for its own defense. 

She said she looks forward to today's discussions.