Latvia’s Defense Ministry said on Monday the Baltic country was rolling back its military plan to ward off a Russian attack, a move prompted by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
The ministry said in a statement that conscription for males between the ages of 18 and 27 will be phased in over the next five years and voluntary military training will be available from the start of 2023.
“[The] The Latvian population must understand that in order to survive, we simply need to increase the share of the population that has received military training and is ready to engage in combat. This should reduce the risk of Russia attacking Latvia at will,” Defense Minister Artis Pabriks said in a statement.
Latvia, a member of both NATO and the European Union, ended its military conscription in 2007 and has only a few thousand active soldiers and national guards, according to Euronews.
The Ministry of Defense said it “plans to increase the share of combat-ready Latvian population in the National Armed Forces to 50,000 in five years. Of these, 14,000 soldiers will form active duty units , while 16,000 would join the National Guard and 20,000 would form the reserve force.”
But Pabrikis said the “security implications” of Russia’s war in Ukraine “have led to many new challenges” and “to overcome them we need to strengthen our combat capabilities and develop the army reserve”.
The men who serve will be required to serve for one year including one month leave and will participate in three months of basic training and another three months of specialty courses.
The Ministry of Defense said women of the same age group can also choose to serve voluntarily and all soldiers will earn up to 400 euros per month.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war against Ukraine, which has killed thousands and displaced millions, has triggered seismic and far-reaching geopolitical changes.