The government of Latvia has requested to purchase a naval strike missile coastal defence system from the United States and other related equipment.
The proposed purchase aims to improve Latvia’s security and enhance its capability to detect and counter current and future Russian naval threats in the Baltic Sea.
Latvia’s defence expenditure is driven by its unique geopolitical circumstances as an ex-Soviet state bordering the Russian Federation. Along with the other Baltic states—Lithuania and Estonia—Latvia has brought itself into the Western sphere of influence through membership of the EU and NATO, creating tensions with Russia, GlobalData’s “Latvia’s Defense Market 2022-2027” reports.
This purchase’s estimated cost is $110m for the Naval Strike Missile Coastal Defense System and related equipment.
These recent sales of naval defence equipment are in the face of Russia’s growing threat to Latvia.
Russia feels at risk from the steady approach of military infrastructure and resources closer to its frontiers and is concerned about the eastward expansion of the NATO alliance within Eastern Europe, according to GlobalData’s “Russia’s Defence Market 2022-2027” report.
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The induction of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia within the alliance brought NATO within striking distance of its national borders, thereby depriving Russia of any buffer zone in case of a confrontation.
This procurement is a naval decision in the right direction for Latvia, as they seek to protect themselves from the vastly superior Russian naval fleet by using the support of the US to prevent the Baltic region from being claimed by Russia.
James Marques, an aerospace, defence, and security analyst at GlobalData, provided his take on the matter, “Latvia, along with the other two baltic states, scarcely have a real navy, only Lithuania has ships capable of fitting any missiles at all, and I don’t think they actively do.
The Baltics are wedged between the Russian city Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg, and the Russian Baltic Fleet lives in both of these cities. Even being in NATO, the Baltics are worried their tiny size means they could be overrun quickly, and the region is vulnerable to fast Russian missile attacks. But their security has been massively boosted by Finland and Sweden joining NATO.”
Latvia has received military support, in an attempt by the West to stop any further Russian expansion into previous Soviet Union nations. Latvia’s biggest defence source was the US, with 32% of Latvia’s imports.
The US has supported Latvia for years and maintains a close strategic partnership. The US has provided over $400 million in military security assistance to Latvia since 2015, and through the ‘State Partnership Program’ has twinned the Michigan National Guard with the Latvian military to further bilateral relations and provide training.
The US also regularly holds summits with all three Baltic states to discuss cybersecurity matters, according to GlobalData’s Latvia’s defence report.