Friday

20th May 2022

Merkel sets limits to Nato solidarity with Baltic states

  • Merkel laid a wreath at Latvia's Freedom Monument (Photo: bundeskanzlerin.de)

German chancellor Angela Merkel has said Nato will defend Baltic states if need be, but will not build permanent military bases in the region.

She spoke on Monday (18 August) on a visit to Riga in which she also laid a wreath at the Freedom Monument, a memorial to the Latvian War of Independence against Russia in 1918.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"I want to stress that ... Article V of the Nato contract - the duty to provide mutual support - is not something which just exists on paper, but is also something which must be filled with life”, she told press after meeting Latvian prime minister Laimdota Straujuma.

She noted that German jets will start Nato air policing operations in Latvia on 20 August and that Nato is to build up a rapid reaction force to be used if Russia tries to destabilise its Baltic neighbours on the Ukraine model.

"I absolutely understand the concerns of the populations in Latvia, but also in the other Baltic states, and Poland, too”, she said.

She ruled out building permanent Nato bases in the region because, she noted, this would violate a 1997 Russia-Nato accord on troop deployments in Europe, however.

"We won't have a permanent stationing of combat troops but we will boost our participation in other ways ... we will do what it takes to guarantee that, should Latvia come into difficulties, Nato will be able to help straight away".

For her part, Straujuma said Russia’s attack on Ukraine has "fundamentally changed the security environment in Europe … trust has been lost”.

She noted that she is “pleased that Ms. Merkel has affirmed that the words [Nato’s Article V] are not just words on paper" and that the German leader “promised” to help Latvian dairy producers struck by Russia’s import ban on EU food.

Merkel’s remarks on Article V and the rapid reaction force echoed statements by Nato’s military chief, Philip Breedlove, on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said on Monday that Merkel plans to visit Ukraine on 23 August in what he described as a "very interesting" trip.

The Ukraine conflict and the EU-Russia confrontation show little sign of abatement despite German diplomatic efforts.

Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, told press also on Monday that Russia has in the past few days sent 1,200 trained militants to east Ukraine.

Its parliament speaker, Oleksandr Turchynov, said on a visit to Lithuania that Ukraine plans to join the EU in the next five years and to join Nato - a red line for Moscow - later on.

"I believe Ukraine has to not only be an EU member but also a Nato member. It would be a strong guarantee against Russia's future intentions”, he told the BNS news agency.

"If, earlier, people [in Ukraine] were divided in their opinions [on Nato membership], Russia's actions have changed it, including in the country's eastern regions”.

With the EU on Monday pledging an extra €125 million for producers hit by the Russian food embargo, the German central bank noted the EU-Russia chill is holding back Europe’s economic recovery.

“Geopolitical tensions in eastern Europe owing to the Ukraine conflict as well as in other parts of the world are now appearing to weigh more heavily on corporate sentiment”, it said in a regular report.

“It is striking that the downward trend in exports to Russia already started at the beginning of 2013, with the value of these exports falling by nearly one fifth by May 2014. Quite clearly, the conditions necessary for prosperous trade with Russia began worsening some time before the Ukraine crisis".

EU states warn of looming food-price crisis

Prices of cereals, fertilisers, and oilseed have shot up drastically in several European markets due to Russia's war on Ukraine, prompting some member states to seek EU aid.

EU plans to jointly invest in defence capabilities

EU countries need to refill stockpiles after several member states supplied weapons to Ukraine in its fight with Russia, and to phase out existing Soviet-era weapons systems, and reinforce air defence.

Podcast

Ultraconservatives in Putin's shadow

Vladimir Putin's Ukraine war has threatened to be a public relations disaster for hard-right gatherings like the Conservative Political Action Conference — now meeting in Budapest and featuring Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who remains highly-cordial with the Kremlin.

Opinion

Will 'Putin's Nato' follow Warsaw Pact into obscurity?

Valdimir Putin's equivalent to Nato — the Collective Security Treaty Organization of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Belarus — is convening in Moscow next week to give cover that Russia is not alone in its war against Ukraine.

News in Brief

  1. Half of Gazprom's clients have opened rouble accounts
  2. Macron seeks 'quick' EU answer on Moldova application
  3. German chancellor to tour Western Balkans
  4. UN: more than 8,000 civilians killed or injured in Ukraine
  5. EU agrees new minimum gas storage target
  6. EU justice agency to have more roles on war crimes
  7. More than 50,000 Ukrainians refused entry into EU in 2021
  8. Germany open to EU treaty change 'if required'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. MEPs urge sanctioning the likes of ex-chancellor Schröder
  2. MEPs call for a more forceful EU response to Kremlin gas cut
  3. Catalan leader slams Pegasus use: 'Perhaps I'm still spied on'
  4. More EU teams needed to prosecute Ukraine war crimes
  5. French EU presidency struggling on asylum reforms
  6. EU states warn of looming food-price crisis
  7. Ultraconservatives in Putin's shadow
  8. Nordic Bridges unveil latest highlights of Spring programme

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us