Faced with Russian Aggression in Ukraine, Latvia Considers Restoring the Military Draft

Dr. E.C. Beuck

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has dragged on for months now and President Putin has been additional steps to further the war effort, such as by subordinating his economy to the Russian war machine, as well as quelling potential sources of internal dissent against 'the special military operation'. Worse still is how Russia has engaged in rhetoric in which it has signaled it might turn its military against other neighboring states as well, such as when the Russian Duma considered revoking Lithuania's independence or threatened that the restrictions levied against trains to Kaliningrad would lead to actions to protect Russia's national interests.

Latvia has been playing close attention to Russian military activities near its shared border as a result. Given the time and distance that needs to be taken into account for a intervention by the rest of NATO to occur should a Russian invasion happen, Defense Minister Artis Pabriks has been considering options to better secure Latvia from this potential scenario. One such way that he has recently indicated support for is the reintroduction of mandatory military service for those Latvian's aged 18 to 27.

This is not entirely unprecedented. Mandatory military service previously existed in Latvia following the Cold War, only ending in 2007. Defense Minister Pabriks has said on the topic of a potential attack coming from Russia that they have been calculating how many forces might be deployed by Russia within 24 or 48 hours, and that Latvia must be prepared to protect itself until NATO could intervene. Mandatory military service would be a significant step in this direction, though the restoration of the practice still needs approval from Latvia's parliament.

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Holding a PhD in Political Science, I write about current events and on political topics related to international relations, international law, conflict both between and within states, and the interactions between technology and politics.

Washington, DC

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