Latvia’s foreign minister wants planes for Ukraine – and sees “momentum” – POLITICO

Riga encourages Western allies to train Ukrainian forces on advanced Western weapons and even to send Western-made warplanes, while the allies plan to arm Kyiv for the long haul, Latvia’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

Speaking to POLITICO, Edgars Rinkēvičs emphasized that the Ukrainian partners warmed to the idea, which seemed unthinkable just three months ago.

“I believe there is a dynamic to do things that we probably couldn’t do a month or two ago,” the minister told POLITICO.

Indeed, in recent days countries like Germany have reversed their earlier opposition to sending equipment to Ukraine that requires significant training, with Berlin announcing that it would give Ukraine modern German tanks (most Ukrainian soldiers are trained on Soviet-era military equipment). In the meantime there are also countries like the USA, France and Canada funnel heavier weapons to Ukraine as the war enters a potentially protracted phase.

Rinkēvičs said there is now consensus that the West is “in a long-term situation”.

Still, an escalation into significant shipments of even more advanced Western equipment — particularly fighter jets — would mean a surge in Western military support, which has already infuriated the Kremlin and faced President Vladimir Putin with angry threats of retaliation.

Rinkēvičs argued that there was a need to increase support for Ukraine.

“To re-equip, rearm, the Ukrainian army, train Ukrainian soldiers to use Western equipment – ​​be they planes, be they tanks, APCs [armored personnel carriers]Artillery systems,” said the Latvian minister, is a “strategic goal because we all understand that in any scenario, Ukraine must continue to have a strong army in the future.”

The rethink, according to the longtime Latvian politician, is due both to the release of images of atrocities against civilians and to the fact that Kiev’s partners “see that Ukraine is capable of defending itself.”

There is a “realization,” the minister added, that “we cannot really rely on diplomatic efforts” and that “Ukraine needs to be successful in order to have real negotiations.”

Ukraine’s supporters “have to do more,” he said. And while he concedes that Latvia cannot send planes or tanks, he said the country has already pledged over 220 million euros in aid to Ukraine

The Latvian minister’s comments came a day after British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss urged allies to step up arms efforts in Ukraine, including by offering planes.

“The war in Ukraine is our war – it is everyone’s war, because Ukraine’s victory is a strategic imperative for all of us,” Truss said in a speech. “Heavy weapons, tanks, planes – dig deep in our stockpiles, ramp up production. We have to do all that.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has argued that these supplies turned the war into a proxy fight between NATO and Russia.

Western officials deny the accusation.

“There is no proxy war,” said Latvian Rinkēvičs. “Of course, individual member states provide the necessary equipment – we see that more and more possibilities are found to send tanks or artillery systems – and I think that’s the right way.” Latvia's foreign minister wants planes for Ukraine - and sees "momentum" - POLITICO

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