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  • Friday, 19 April 2024
NATO Urged to Consider Conscription Amid Ukraine Conflict

NATO Urged to Consider Conscription Amid Ukraine Conflict

As the conflict in Ukraine enters its third year, Latvia's Foreign Minister, Krisjanis Karins, has urged NATO allies, including the UK, to consider reintroducing conscription as a measure to bolster Europe's defenses against Russia. Speaking at a recent security conference in Germany, Karins emphasized the effectiveness of conscription in Latvia, which reinstated mandatory military service last year in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.


Karins highlighted that while Latvia, alongside the other Baltic states, scrapped conscription nearly two decades ago, the decision to reintroduce the draft was part of a broader plan to enhance the nation's armed forces. He emphasized that conscription serves to augment the existing professional army by bolstering capable, equipped, and trained reservists.


Acknowledging the potential impact of conscription, Karins suggested that any European country implementing it, especially larger nations, would significantly enhance defense capabilities. However, he clarified that he was not advocating for conscription but rather sharing Latvia's experience with colleagues.


In contrast, UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps expressed reluctance towards conscription, emphasizing the UK's reliance on a professional armed forces model. While acknowledging historical wartime scenarios necessitating conscription, Shapps stated that there were no current plans for such measures.


Major General Andis Dilans, Chief of the Joint Staff of the Latvian National Armed Forces, underscored the broader significance of conscription beyond military readiness, emphasizing its role in fostering national service and strengthening the connection between the public and the military during times of crisis.


The training base in southeast Latvia, where conscripts and volunteers underwent basic training with the National Guard. Conscripts, both voluntary and ordered, expressed enthusiasm for military service, viewing it as an opportunity to defend their country and experience military life.


The training regimen, characterized by rigorous daily schedules and communal living arrangements, aims to instill a sense of patriotism and readiness among trainees. Instructors emphasized the importance of awakening a desire to protect the country and cultivating courage in the face of potential threats.


As tensions persist in Eastern Europe, the debate surrounding conscription reflects ongoing concerns about regional security and preparedness. While some advocate for its reinstatement as a proactive measure, others emphasize the need for a balanced approach that aligns with contemporary defense strategies and national priorities.


Overall, the discourse underscores the complex considerations surrounding defense policies in the context of evolving geopolitical dynamics and security challenges in Europe.

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