Latvian Foreign Minister Says European Leaders Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Provoke Putin And Force Ukraine To Make Concessions | CNN Politics



Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said on Wednesday that European leaders should not be deterred by fears of provoking Russian President Vladimir Putin and that the international community should not pressure Ukraine to make concessions to end the war.

In an exclusive interview with CNN in Washington, DC, Rinkēvičs also outlined Latvia’s main goals for NATO’s eastern flank approach — namely, a long-standing military presence — and expressed concern about the deepening food crisis caused by Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports. .

Rinkvičs’ visit to DC came as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said “Ukraine is on the battlefield at a pivotal moment” and the Biden administration unveiled a new tranche of military aid to Ukraine — a step to bolster Kiev now the war’s end is nearing its fourth month. Latvia’s foreign minister is set to meet with Biden lawmakers and government officials ahead of the NATO summit in Madrid later this month.

While Rinkēvičs didn’t name names in his criticism of European leaders who he believes are “fear” of vexing Putin, he told CNN he was referring to “those who are known to openly say from time to time that they don’t want to see him.” be humiliated or that we should offer a way out” – an apparent swipe at French President Emmanuel Macron, who said in early June: “we must not humiliate Russia so that on the day the fighting ends we can build an exit through diplomatic means. ”

Rinkēvičs said such an approach is “not rational”, telling CNN that “the mindset in many of the capitals needs to be changed”. He also noted that diplomatic aid from world leaders to Putin in trying to get him to end the war had produced no results, saying he believed the Russians “can only be stopped by Ukrainians, only by letting them fight.” .”

The foreign minister said the war in Ukraine was bigger than the Russian leader, noting that they would not be able to wage the war “without the support of the population… without this kind of brainwashing the people through propaganda channels.”

He praised the United States for its military support to Ukraine, saying that European allies should scale up their wartime industrial production, noting that “we had those nice 20 years of downsizing military, getting rid of all this stuff.” , and then now suddenly we need for our own defense, we need to arm Ukraine.”

In addition, Rinkēvičs told CNN that “no one should force Ukraine to make concessions to Russia” — concessions such as ceding territory to Moscow to stop the war. While this could work for some time, the foreign minister doubted it would be a permanent deterrent to future Russian aggression.

“Let’s not make this mistake again. Russia is not waging this war over NATO expansion or to keep Ukraine out of NATO or the EU. It’s about destroying Ukraine, getting land, restoring the empire,” he said.

To prevent future military aggression by Moscow, Rinkēvičs said that “Russia must be in a situation where its war and economic machine is in such a state that it cannot launch any military offensive operation,” and while he does not see that the sanctions will end the current war, they could help deter a future one.

As NATO leaders prepare to meet in the Spanish capital later this month, Rinkēvičs said Latvia, which borders both Russia and Belarus, sees very specific measures to be taken to enhance security in the Baltic states. improvement, the most important of which is a long-term strategy. NATO troops present.

The secretary of state told CNN it was crucial to send “a clear message to Russia” that it is NATO territory, and “not an inch” will be ceded, recognizing that Madrid would be just the beginning of the discussion and decision-making process.

“What we want to avoid is the situation where parts of the Baltic states that are suddenly occupied and then liberated by NATO forces and then we get new Buchas or Mariupols,” Rinkēvičs said, referring to the names of areas of Ukraine that were mass atrocities are committed.

“So what we’re talking about internally, this is a change from the kind of deterrence and defence, kind of (by) punishment to defense and deterrence by denial, denial to enter the Baltics,” he said.

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