Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Vejonis claimed today that Russia has dispatched “specially-trained, professional provocateurs” to his nation to try to fuel unrest among the nation’s Russian minority.
Vejonis claimed the goal was “to increase negative sentiment in society,” citing the recent public criticism of military policy by economist Aleksandrs Gaponenko, who previously helped organize a failed referendum on increased rights for Latvia’s Russian population.
Roughly 15 percent of Latvia’s population is ethnic Russian “non-citizens,” who are not allowed to vote. The recent government hype surrounding Russian “plots” has many of the Russians fearing a crackdown which Vejonis’ comments certainly did not rule out.
Rather, Vejonis’ response was to promise that Latvia would more than double military spending by 2020 in an effort to reach the 2 percent “goal” the US has set for NATO members. Even with twice the funding, it is unclear how the tiny nation’s military of 6,000 soldiers is going to be converted into a difference maker.
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