by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of Latvia, Evika Siliņa
Prime Minister Siliņa,
Welcome to NATO.
It is great to see you and thank you so much for coming here and meeting with me at your first visit abroad as Prime Minister of Latvia.
Congratulations on your appointment.
And thank you for your commitment to NATO.
Latvia is a highly valued NATO Ally.
You contribute to our operations in Kosovo and Iraq and you lead by example on defence investment, already spending more than 2% of GDP on defence.
And you host a Canadian-led battlegroup, strengthening our deterrence and defence on NATO’s eastern flank.
Latvia is also one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters, providing Kyiv with military support and training Ukrainian soldiers.
In response to Russia’s war, NATO has increased our presence from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
In the air, Italian and Spanish jets keep Latvian skies safe.
On land, we are enhancing our presence, with Canada planning to double its troop numbers in Latvia.
And at sea, some 30 warships just concluded exercise Northern Coasts, off Latvia’s shores.
One of our biggest exercises in the region.
Testing high-end naval warfare.
And sending a clear message of NATO’s vigilance.
Today in our meeting, we addressed Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive continues to make steady progress.
In some areas, Ukrainian forces have pressed past Russia’s defences.
But we see no sign that Putin’s objectives have changed.
So the best way to lasting peace is to step up our support for Ukraine.
So I welcome the significant contributions that NATO Allies are making.
Including the first American Abrams battle tanks that have arrived in Ukraine.
Boosting Ukraine’s capacity to push back the Russian forces.
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is the biggest threat to our security in decades.
So at the NATO Summit in Vilnius, we took important steps to keep our countries safe.
We agreed the most robust regional defence plans since the Cold War.
Backed by 300,000 troops on higher readiness.
And substantial air and naval power.
NATO is ready to defend every inch of Allied territory.
And I know Latvia will continue to play its part.
For our security and for Ukraine’s.
So thank you again, Prime Minister.
And I look forward to working with you.